The Irish forestry industry might invest around €250 million during the next years, in the preparation of a major expansion period. Forest Industries Ireland (FII), a new trade body, forecasts that the timber supplies will double up by 2035 and increase the turnover to €1.6 billion from €800 million.
As reported by Irish Times, Fergal Leamy, chief executive of State forestry company, Coillte, said that the sector has invested €250 million over the last three to four years.
“I would say that there will probably be the same amount again invested in the next few years,” he said, adding that it would be needed to process increased production from Irish forests.
FII predicts that production will double to 6.6 million cubic metres of wood in 2035 from 3.3 million in 2017. Coillte now supplies 51% of this, while 21,000 private growers accounting for the balance. Forests planted with the aid of incentives introduced in the 1980s and ’90s are maturing, increasing overall production.
Mark McAuley, director of FII, which is affiliated to employers’ body Ibec, explained that production is heading for a high point in coming decades, when it will level out. According to Mr McAuley, Brexit is the main immediate challenge facing the industry as Britain is its main overseas market, Irish Times reported.
Michael Glennon, joint chief executive of Longford-based sawmill group, Glennon Brothers, explained that half the timber produced and processed here is exported, with 95% of that going to Britain. He pointed out that the industry fears the impact of delays at Irish and British ports, as timber is delivered to customers as they order it. “Logistics is the key issue for us,” Mr Glennon said.
Despite the UK’s plans to leave the EU, the industry believes that Britain will continue as its main export market. It is Europe’s biggest importer of wood and needs to build 300,000 new homes a year to tackle a housing shortage.