IFA Farm Forestry Chairman Pat Hennessy said the suspension of the Forest Road and the Woodland Improvement Schemes are a major blow to the management of the private forest sector. He said that funding must be secured immediately from elsewhere in the budget to fund these vital schemes.
“The suspension of these schemes will have significant consequences for the supply of timber and the wood processing sector,” said Mr Hennessy. “The Government must support private forest owners to mobilise private timber resource in order to achieve the production targets and satisfy the growing demand for timber.”
The All Ireland Roundwood Demand 2011-2020 report published by COFORD earlier this year states that demand for roundwood is forecast to increase from 4.3 million m3 in 2011 to 6 million m3 by 2020.
“Forest roads provide crucial access and are essential for the management of forests; they enable forest fire protection whilst also permitting economic and efficient timber harvesting. A well planned forest road will increase the value of the timber while also increasing biodiversity,” he added.
The forest industry, comprising the growing, harvesting and processing of forest products contributes in excess of €2.8 billion to the Irish economy. The wood processing sector is already under pressure to source sufficient volumes of timber to support the vibrant export orientated forest products market.
“The budgetary priority must be to support forest owners to mobilise the existing resource to ensure there is sufficient supply of timber to satisfy the demands of the processing sector. Funding must secured from elsewhere in the budget to re-open the Forest Road and Woodland Improvement schemes immediately,” said the IFA Forestry Chairman.