Monday, 10 September 2012
The Irish Forestry and Forest Products Association (IFFPA), the IBEC sector that represents the entire forest industry chain, today published its 2012 Annual Review. This shows that the sector has repositioned itself as a major exporter in response to a lagging domestic market. In 2010, the sector was worth €2.2 billion to the Irish economy. In 2011, 77% of the forest products which were manufactured in Ireland were exported. These exports were worth €286 million.
However, the IFFPA warned that the failure to reach Government afforestation targets meant that the industry may not have enough indigenous raw material in the coming years to meet demand. In 2011, 6,653 hectares of new forest were planted, a decline of 20% on 2010. Current Government targets are to increase forest cover from 10.6% in 2011 to 17% by 2030. If these targets are not met, the timber processing industry may have to import raw material.
Speaking about the report, IFFPA Director Marian Byron said: "Increased productivity may not translate into job creation unless Government addresses a range of issues that are preventing the private sector from planting trees. The timber processing industry is a real Irish success story having turned itself from largely supplying the Irish construction sector to exporting 77% of what it produces to the UK, France and to new markets in continental Europe. The industry has the capacity to capture more export markets if it has access to raw materials in the years ahead.
“The Government’s target of achieving a forest cover of 17% by 2030 is essential to the development of a vibrant forestry sector that will provide jobs, particularly in rural Ireland. Investment in planting must be accompanied by investment in the necessary infrastructure to get product to market. This will include investment in harvesting infrastructure and in forest roads.
"The industry has demonstrated a genuine capacity to develop export markets, generate wealth and create sustainable regional employment. IFFPA maintains that the realisation of Government afforestation targets alongside the required infrastructure development to mobilise raw materials to market, in conjunction with a supportive regulatory framework, will facilitate the continued growth of the sector."
Key stats: In 2011 the sector:
- employed just under 12,000 people
- harvested 2.7 million cubic metres of industrial roundwood from Irish forests
- planted 6,653 hectares of new forest
- became the largest exporter of MDF and the second-largest exporter of particleboard and OSB to the UK