A COFORD report, All Ireland Roundwood Production Forecast 2011-2028, forecasts that over the period of 2028, the production capacity of Ireland’s forests will almost double to 7 million cubic metres, from the current 3.79 million. Almost all of the increase in supply is set to come from privately owned forests in the republic of Ireland, which were established over the past 25 years on foot of State/EU and private sector investment.
The overall forecast is contingent on issues such as access and plantation size and the expected assortment outcome depends on plantations being thinned on time, at sufficient intensity, to bring forward supplies of larger and more valuable sizes. This will require investment in forest roads and in training and education right along the supply chain, from forest owners to machine operators and hauliers, the report states. Ireland’s forest sector employs 16,000 people across the State.
In detail the report states that the total forecast of potential standing volume production over the forecast period 2011-2028 is 95.47 million m3, with an additional 2.94 million m3 potentially available in the tip-7 cm category. The forecast volume increases from an estimated 4.46 million m3 in 2011 to 7.38 million m3 in 2028. The total net realisable volume production over the forecast period is estimated as being 85.06 million m3, with an additional 2.40 million m3 potentially available in the tip-7 cm category. The forecast volume increases from 3.79 million m3 in 2011 to 6.95 million m3 in 2028.
The total annual thinning area is estimated to more than double from 22,800 ha in 2011 to 49,400 ha by 2028 with the most significant increase being in the ROI private sector. Clearfell areas in contrast fluctuate within the range 7,200 ha to 8,100 ha up to 2018 and show a significant increase thereafter due to the forecast clearfell of no-thin crops in the private nsector.
However, the report cautions that there can be significant differences between forecast volumes and actual timber volumes processed by the timber industry in any given year due to a combination of factors, which are, principally, the volume of losses arising during harvesting; the planned volumes not being harvested due to market conditions, access, or site conditions; and the individual owner’s circumstances and preferences.
The report is the result of work carried out by a group convened under COFORD. COFORD is the Programme of Competitive Forestry Research for Development and is based in the research division of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; it was established in 1993 and is currently funded by the Irish Government under the National Development Plan. Its mission is to establish and strengthen links between research and industry, determine forest research and development needs and to evaluate research and development progress and transfer technology to ensure maximum benefit.