Monday, September 10 10:23:51
The fall in demand at home has meant that the Irish forestry industry has reinvested itself as a mostly export oriented business with 77pc of products manufactured in Ireland sold abroad, the Irish Forestry and Forest Products Association (IFFPA) said today.
The IBEC group's 2012 Annual Review said that, in 2010, the sector was worth E2.2 billion to the Irish economy.
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 20pc on 2010. Current Government targets are to increase forest cover from 10.6pc in 2011 to 17pc 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 77pc 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 17pc 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."