Ireland possesses the climate and soils to grow forests at a faster rate than most of the developed world, yet only 10.5% of our land area is under forest compared with almost 40% for the rest of Europe. Our forestry and timber sectors hold significant potential to support the growth of the Irish economy and provide a range of services to Irish society into the future.
This series of papers, Forestry 2030, addresses key issues for the forest sector and charts a way forward. They show that the national afforestation programme is good value for money, and the forest sector is now an important part of our economy and society.
Afforestation - the planting of new forests - has been a part of government policy since the foundation of the state. It has delivered a thriving forest industry that employs many thousands, particularly in rural Ireland. The total economic contribution of the sector in 2012 was €2.3 bn and this figure is set to grow in the coming years as wood output expands. Irish forests, forest products and fuels are making a considerable contribution to mitigating climate change. Forest fuels will be needed in greatly increased amounts over the coming decades as the forecast is for continued growth in demand for indigenous renewable energy. Most of the step-up in supply will come from young forests, so continued afforestation and the replanting of felled forests is vital to fulfil this need, and to cater for
the increasing demands from an export-led sawmilling and panelboard sector.
Apart from climate change mitigation, forestry investment also provides a range of other public goods and services, such as biodiversity, recreation, and forests play a role in water protection and flood prevention. Investment in forest and timber research and development has been ongoing over many decades; continued commitment to research is critical to an innovative forest sector, to continued competiveness, and the ability to respond to new challenges.
Forestry 2030 sets two challenges for the state and private sector to be achieved by 2030:
- a national forest area of 970,000 ha and
- a doubling of the annual all island annual roundwood harvest to 7 million cubic metres.
These are achievable targets, based on private and state investment, which have the potential to deliver enormous
benefits to society.
The COFORD Council, June 2014
- Irish Forestry and the Economy (pdf 95Kb)
- Irish Forests and Climate change and Irish Forestry (pdf 96Kb) Irish Forests and Climate Change (pdf 96Kb)
- Irish Forests and Renewable Energy (pdf 234Kb)
- Irish Forests and Biodiversity (pdf 101Kb)
- Irish Forests and Recreation (pdf 171Kb)
The papers have been complied on behalf of the COFORD Council by Donal Whelan, with input from: Dr Áine Ní Dhubháin (UCD), Dr Richard Moloney (UCC), Dr Kevin Black (FERS Ltd), Dr Eugene Hendrick (COFORD Secretariat), Tom Kent (WIT), Eoin O’Driscoll (Consultant), Dr Sandra Irwin (UCC) and Michael Cregan (Consultant).