August 2017

 


 

Forestry Good For The Environment

For more videos, see DAFM Website

 


 

DOYLE ANNOUNCES COMMENCEMENT OF FORESTRY ACT, 2014

Andrew Doyle, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for Forestry, today announced the commencement of the Forestry Act 2014, which came into effect on Wednesday, 24th May 2017. New forestry regulations, which provide the regulatory basis for a number of forestry activities including the licensing of felling, aerial fertilisation, afforestation and forest road construction, will also come into effect on that date.

Making the announcement, the Minister of State said “The Forestry Act 2014 is an important piece of legislation, which will make a significant contribution to the development of forestry by providing a more flexible system for regulating forestry activities, in general, and the felling of trees in particular. The Forestry Act, 1946, while it has endured and served us well for seventy years, was in need of an overhaul. He added “I am confident that the new Forestry Act, which provides for the making of regulations over the whole spectrum of forestry activity, will facilitate the development of our national forest resource and industry both at a local level which is primarily rural-based, and at a national level in terms of its contribution to the economy”.

One of the main changes introduced by the Act and its associated regulations is the streamlining of the felling licensing system. From 24th May 2017, there will be a single licence process for tree felling, extended duration of felling licences and an increased list of exempted trees which will not require a felling licence. The Act also introduces tougher penalties for illegal felling of trees with the aim of maintaining the area of existing forest and helping to prevent future deforestation.


 

PEFC Ireland & ECC Teo - Significant development for sector

PEFC Ireland announced that ECC Teo, one of the country's largest sawmills, was recently awarded PEFC Chain of Custody Certification by Exova BM TRADA, making it the first sawmill in Ireland, North and South, to hold dual FSC/PEFC certification.

On being awarded PEFC Chain of Custody Certification, ECC Teo's Managing Director, Mr. Daryl Fahy, stated, "Our new accreditation to the PEFC scheme further enforces our commitment to sustainable forestry and provides our customers with a complete range of fully certified timber products".

This means that there are now two major timber processors in Ireland to hold dual certification, the other being the Coillte owned OSB plant Smartply Europe Ltd.

Commencing in the autumn of 2016, PEFC Ireland worked with ECC to help the company achieve its aim of PEFC certification in response to growing customer demand, principally in the UK, for PEFC as well as FSC certified timber products. Moreover ECC's experience shows that it is relatively straightforward for a sawmill to achieve dual certification and this may well prove to be a trend in the future.
ECC presented with PEFC CoC Certification
Conor Fahy, Quality Manager for ECC Teo, being presented with PEFC Chain of Custody Certification by William Merivale (PEFC National Secretary). Pictured, left to right, are Kathleen Coyne (ECC), William Merivale (PEFC National Secretary), Conor Fahy (Quality Manager ECC) and Chris Kiely (ECC).


 

Doyle launches New Felling Guidance Tool to help maximise returns from Forestry

Minister Andrew Doyle TD today launched the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine's Felling Decision Tool for conifers. The tool provides guidance to forest owners on when to fell their forest to obtain the best return from their forest asset.

Speaking at the launch Minister Doyle said, "The importance of deciding when to clear-fell and its impact on returns should not be underestimated. This tool will assist forest owners in making a more informed decision on clear-felling. The tool clearly shows that rotation length has a very significant impact on the return a grower will get from his or her crop. It is vital that landowners have a positive experience from their forestry investments and that revenue from the first rotation facilitates reforestation to continue the forest cycle. "

The Minister went on to say "It is also important at a national level, from a roundwood supply and wood quality perspective that rotation lengths are of ample length to allow the production of sufficient quantities of valuable sawlog-sized material to support an expanding sawmill sector. By launching this tool today we are endeavouring to underpin this level of production in a sustainable way, by providing the best available information, to all those involved in managing forests and in providing advice to owners."

The tool is available for use at http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/forestservice/forestservicegeneralinformation/foreststatisticsandmapping/fellingdecisiontool/ , with an accompanying COFORD Connects Note for guidance. For further details on the Felling Decision Tool please contact John Redmond (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).


 

Doyle Welcomes Initiative to Facititate Forest Certification

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Andrew Doyle, T.D., with responsibility for forestry, has welcomed the development of a template for private forest owners to establish certification groups.

Noting that timber processors may only take in a maximum of 30% of uncertified timber if they wish to retain their certification status and continue to have access to the UK and European markets, the Minister of State commented, "I am aware that there is growing concern amongst processors and forest owners alike that the lack of certification for private forest owners would hinder access to timber markets. The signing of the contract which encompasses the establishment of two certification groups, one in the north and one in the south, is an important milestone for Ireland’s growing forest industry as it represents a gateway to certification for private forest owners thereby removing a potential barrier to the timber market".

Minister Doyle was referring to the signature of the contract, on 14th November 2016, for the development of the template. The contract is with an international consortium led by Commercial Forestry Services Ltd., in partnership with The Forestry Company, UK Forest Certification Ltd. and the Soil Association Certification Ltd (UK). Key contributors to the project are Teagasc and the two participating forestry groups, North East Forestry Group and Forest Owners Co-operative Society. The signing of the contract was followed by an inaugural meeting at which the project timetable was outlined and forest management plans exchanged. It is intended that the project itself will be completed in May 2018 and will deliver the tools for other forestry groups, forestry companies and individual foresters to organise forest owners for the purpose of gaining certification.

Wishing the project every success, Minister Doyle added that "the aim of my Department with regard to forest certification is to help put in place the necessary structure that will allow forest owners to become certified in a cost effective and sustainable manner. Once the certification groups have been established, the focus will be on growing the groups in terms of both area and in terms of the number of members. This can only be achieved with the co-operation of the industry as a whole and I am pleased to note the important linkages within this certification project".


 

Minister Doyle Launches Timber Forecast and GIS Portal

Andrew Doyle, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, today launched the All Ireland Roundwood Production Forecast 2016-2035. A demonstration of the Department’s new GIS Portal, which displays Timber Production Forecast results geographically, was also provided at the launch.

The forecast, published by COFORD, was a collaborative effort involving Coillte, the Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Northern Ireland Forest Service, Teagasc, the Irish Farmers Association, the Irish Timber Council, and the Irish Timber Growers Association.

The GIS Portal accompanying the forecast will generate user defined spatial forecasts up to 2035 for private and Coillte forests. The GIS Portal, which was developed by the Information Management and Technology Division (IMT) of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, may be accessed through https://publicapps.agriculture.gov.ie/gispublic/rpfms/pages/workspace/public.jsp.

The COFORD All Ireland Roundwood Production Forecast 2016- 2035 is available through the COFORD link on the Department’s website http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/forestservice/forestservicegeneralinformation/foreststatisticsandmapping/roundwoodandforestbasedbiomassforecasting/ or can be purchased through www.coford.ie.


 

DOYLE WELCOMES BUDGET 2017 ALLOCATION FOR FORESTRY, HORTICULTURE, ORGANICS AND GREYHOUND SECTORS

The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Andrew Doyle TD has today welcomed the allocation in Budget 2017. Expenditure next year will amount to € 111.6 million for the Forestry Programme, €16 million for Bord na gCon, €5 million in capital investment for the commercial horticulture sector, and €10 million for the organics sector.

Forestry
€111.6m (including a capital carryover) will be made available for forestry development during 2017. This level of funding is further evidence of the Government’s ongoing commitment to the sector as set out in the Forestry Programme 2014 – 2020. It will ensure continued progress in the drive towards increased forest cover and mobilisation of the existing timber and biomass resource, two core objectives necessary for growing Ireland’s timber processing industry. The level of funding provided is also significant given the recent EU proposals on climate change mitigation and the potential role of forestry in helping to achieve the targets set.

Minister Doyle said, "The funding being provided will allow for over 7,100ha of new forests to be planted almost 800ha more than the total area planted in 2015. Most importantly for the development of existing forests, funding will be provided for 110 km of new forest roads and for forest management initiatives which will improve the productivity of our forests while maintaining the highest environmental standards".

"Payments under the new reconstitution Scheme to help farmers affected by the winter storms of 2013 and 2014 will also commence in 2017," he added.

For full press release, see www.agriculture.gov.ie/press


 

MINISTER CREED ANNOUNCES OPENING OF WINDBLOW RECONSTITUTION SCHEME

Michael Creed, T.D., Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, announced today the opening of a Windblow Reconstitution Scheme, the purpose of which is to provide financial aid to land owners whose plantations were damaged by storm force winds that occurred between 5th December 2013 and 12th February 2014, with the most severe windstorm, named ‘Storm Darwin’, on 12th February 2014. The frequency and ferocity of these storm events, compounded by waterlogged soils on many sites, led to extensive damage on forest lands, affecting some 8,000 hectares overall

Announcing the Scheme, Minister Creed said "Many private forest owners suffered significant financial loss both in terms of the value of timber lost and the cost in re-establishing the sites affected. Negotiations in relation to a scheme to assist in the reconstitution of the forests affected had been ongoing for some time and I am particularly pleased that my Department, in conjunction with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, is now in a position to make a Windblow Reconstitution Scheme available to those forest owners. The State will make a financial contribution towards the cost of replanting these sites as a once off measure for this specific weather event".

The Minister advised those affected that "Forest owners of conifer forests planted after the 1st December 1989 will be eligible to apply and those with broadleaves planted after the 1st December 1983 can apply". A maximum grant of €1,700 per hectare up to a total of 10 hectares will be made available under the Scheme to those private forest owners meeting the eligibility criteria. The budget allocated to the Scheme can provide funding in respect of a total of 2,000 hectares. In the event of applications received exceeding that amount, a selection process will be undertaken after the closing date for receipt of applications in an effort to ensure that funding is allocated on an equitable basis to favour those forests which suffered the greatest loss.

The Minister took the opportunity to remind forest owners of the importance of insuring their forests in order to protect their valuable resource. He added that, "while insurance is not compulsory, the financial interest of the forest owner is best served though a comprehensive insurance package and I encourage forest owners to safeguard their investment in their forests".

Scheme details along with the application form will be available from the Department’s website at http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/forestservice/grantsandpremiumschemes2015-2016/ during the week beginning 12th September 2016. The closing date for receipt of applications will be 24th February 2017.


 

Average Usual Hours Worked per Week highest in the Agriculture, forestry and fishing sector

The Central Statistics Office have released statistics that show of the fourteen economic sectors, the Agriculture, forestry and fishing sector had the highest average usual hours worked per week at 49.1 hours in Q1 2016 with the Education sector having the lowest at 29.4 hours worked per week in the same period. The overall average usual hours worked per week was 34.9 hours in Q1 2010 and in Q1 2016 was 35.8 hours.

Average usual hours worked per week classified by occupational group showed that Managers, directors and senior officials had the highest usual hours worked per week of 43.0 hours in Q1 2016. The Sales and customer service occupational group had the lowest average hours worked per week of 29.9 hours in the same period.

See http://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/er/qnhs-es/qnhsemploymentseriesq12016/


 

WBA publishes the Global Bioenergy Statistics 2016 report

The World Bioenergy Association (WBA) recently published the 3rd Global Bioenergy Statistics report. The report shows that bioenergy is growing at a steady pace.

  • Bioenergy is the third largest renewable electricity generating source. In other sectors of direct heat, derived heat and transport sector, bioenergy was the largest renewable energy source.
  • Forestry is the largest supplier of biomass. Forestry area globally reduced by 1.23% since 2000. EU - 28 countries increased their forestry area by 3.62%. Fuelwood and charcoal contributed 68% and 10% to the total biomass supply.
  • Forest residues have a potential of generating 4.6 EJ to 7.6 EJ.

The full Global Bioenergy Statistics 2016 report is available from www.worldbioenergy.org


 

Timber skyscrapers - soon to be a reality?

London's first timber skyscraper could be a step closer to reality after researchers presented Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, with conceptual plans for an 80-storey, 300m high wooden building integrated within the Barbican.

For more information, see www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/timber-skyscrapers-could-transform-londons-skyline


 

Housebuilding Boosts Timber Frame Market in 2016

A new report on the 2016 Timber Frame Market from MTW Research suggests the industry continues to outperform the UK economy, despite slowing slightly from recent double digit growth. Based on data from 80% of the timber frame market, the research found that 2016 profitability continues to strengthen as demand rises from housebuilding and commercial construction. However, MTW notes that there is some evidence of likely deceleration in growth for timber frame sales in H2 2016, though healthy trading patterns are forecast for 2017 and beyond.

According to the 200 page report, rising volume demand for timber frame homes over the last few years has sustained optimism with increasing market opportunities at both lower and higher value ends of the market in 2016. This has underpinned the timber frame market with MTW reporting some 80% of timber frame suppliers having good or excellent credit ratings in 2016.

Discussing future prospects, MTW's research executive James Taylor commented, "Sustained demand for new housing, coupled with advances in timber frame technologies are set to stimulate growth in the timber frame market in the medium to longer term." Identifying a number of positive factors, the report forecasts sales growth of more than 30% by 2020, underlining healthy opportunities and a promising future for the timber frame market.

Cost and sustainability, lower waste arising and greater thermal efficiencies amongst other issues continue to support the specification of timber frame, with the research finding that timber has continued to gain share of the UK construction market.

The research uncovered some 60% of timber frame suppliers now reporting growth, underlining optimism for the majority of the timber frame market. However, MTW also point to a 'two tier market' in 2016 with some 20% of suppliers experiencing difficulties in terms of flat or declining sales, tightening margins and pressure on financial liquidity.

The report highlights that housebuilding levels are some 31% higher than in 2010, with timber frame sales having risen faster than the overall housebuilding market.

See the website www.marketresearchreports.co.uk


 

DOYLE HIGHLIGHTS MEASURES TO ENCOURAGE WOOD MOBILISATION

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, Andrew Doyle, TD, speaking at the opening of the National Forestry Conference highlighted the availability of grants under his Department's Forest Road Scheme, the aim of which is to encourage and assist in the mobilisation of timber. The conference, the focus of which was 'Wood Mobilisation', took place on June 1st in the Johnstown House Hotel, Enfield, Co. Meath.

Minister of State Doyle, to whom responsibility for forestry was recently assigned, commented that the Conference was one of his first opportunities to meet and talk with people involved in the forestry sector. The Minister of State added that, as well as ensuring that there is a continuous and ongoing programme of afforestation to supply Irish sawmills and timber processing industry, "we must also maximise the volume of raw material that is harvested from our existing forests, not just roundwood for our processers but also the less traditional assortments for our growing renewable energy sector".

In his address to the Conference, the Minister of State updated the attendance on a range of measures currently being progressed by this Department under the Forestry Programme 2014-2020. In this context, he referred to the development of a Forest Machine Operator training course and the proposed establishment of forest certification groups, both of which would contribute to the mobilisation of timber and meeting demand for certified timber. He also noted the recent launch of the Irish Timber Growers Association Wood Price Quarterly initiative, adding that "While the ITGA's roundwood price database has been in operation since 2005, important information on the value of a forest owner's timber crop is now available to all for the first time. This information will be invaluable to forest owners when assessing the market or making decisions on thinning and felling sales."

Commenting on the range of topics and notable speakers participating in the Conference, Minister of State Doyle thanked the Wood Marketing Federation and the Society of Irish Foresters for organising the Conference as well as the companies, industry representative bodies and agencies who made it possible through their support and participation.


 

APF SHOW 2016

APF 2016, the UK's largest forestry, woodland, arboricultural and timber event has taken in over 230 exhibitors bookings and advance tickets sales have opened. The Show which takes place in Ragley Estate, Alcester, Warwickshire on 15/16/17th September is anticipating 17000 visitors over the three days.

The event will showcase the very best state-of-the-art machinery available and reflect everything that happens in the modern working woodland and tree industries. During the event over 300 tonnes of timber will be harvested and processed by the very latest hi-tec machines. But the show not only represents the very hi-tec but all aspects of woodland and tree management and timber processing.

For further information see www.apfexhibition.co.uk


 

2016 RDS-Forest Service Irish Forestry Awards

The RDS-Forest Service Irish Forestry Awards are Ireland's only national forestry awards and are divided into three main categories which highlight, celebrate and reward those who are who are at the forefront of the economic, environmental and community development of the forestry sector in Ireland.

With a prize fund of €10,000, everyone with woodlands is encouraged to enter the Awards as all woodlands, large or small, are of merit.

Production Forestry
The Production Forestry Category is divided into two sections; Under 15 Hectares and Over 15 Hectares and is open to Farmers and landowners using sound silvicultural management on their farms. With the aim of recognising excellence in the management of production forestry, the winner in each section receives €2,000 and an RDS Silver Medal. The runner-up in each section collects a cheque for €1,000 and an RDS certificate of merit.

Multipurpose Forestry
The Multipurpose Forestry category is open to individuals and organisations that are expanding or developing existing or new forest habitats through natural and environmentally sensitive methods. Judges will take into account the planning and management of the area, ecological awareness, social benefit, silviculture methods, control of grazing animals and invasive species as well as sensitive felling and thinning. The winner receives €2,000 and an RDS Silver Medal, the runner-up a cheque for €1,000 and an RDS certificate of merit.

Community Woodlands
The Community Woodland Award is designed to encourage and reward projects involving community woodlands and forests which have been established and managed in a way which is sustainable and beneficial to the landscape, the local people, biodiversity and the economy. This Award is open to woodland owners or managers from the public and voluntary sectors and the winner of this Award will receive a special presentation trophy and an RDS Silver Medal.

Close of Entries
Entries must be submitted on or before June 10, 2016. If your entry is short-listed, judges will visit to inspect between July and September.

Application forms are available on the RDS website:
www.rds.ie/agriculture or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you require any additional information please contact the RDS Agriculture Department directly on 01 240 7215.


 

Wood production from our forests set to more than double

The COFORD All Ireland Roundwood Production Forecast has just been released as an advanced version subject to final text editing and makes exciting reading for the sector, see

COFORD All Ireland Roundwood Production Forecast 2016-2035 (Advance version, subject to final text editing)

As with the previous forecast in 2011, the roundwood supply will increase significantly over the next two decades, with almost all of the increase coming from privately-owned forests. The forecast net realisable volume from our forests will increase from c. 3.95 million cubic metres (m) in 2016 to 7.87 million m3 by 2035. When compared with the previous forecast over the common reporting period 2016-2028, there are relatively small differences in total volume - 66.33 million m3 compared with the previous forecast estimate of 66.04 million m3, however, there are year-on-year differences of up to +/-14% in forecast.

The potential wood fibre available for energy and other uses totals c. 58.2 million m3 over the period of the forecast when you exclude the volume of small roundwood from the Coillte estate which is assumed to go to the Panelboard mills. The wood fibre volume increases steadily from c. 1.8 million m3 in 2016 to c. 4.2 million m3 in 2035. The increase is due mainly to the increasing volume of downgrade and wood residues in line with the increasing roundwood volume available as outlined in the forecast.
With over half of the forest estate less than 20 years old, timber production, economic output and employment in the sector are set to grow significantly. Ireland's forestry and timber sector is an emerging success story currently employing an estimated 12,000 people. It comprises a vibrant forest products sector with state-of-the-art boardmills and sawmills and exporting most of its product output.


 

MINISTER HAYES LAUNCHES "LAND AVAILABILITY FOR AFFORESTATION - Exploring opportunities for expanding Ireland’s forest resource"

Minister of State for Forestry, Tom Hayes has launched Land Availability for Afforestation, - Exploring opportunities for expanding Ireland’s forest resource. The report has been compiled under the auspices of the Council for Forest Research and Development - COFORD.

Speaking at the launch today Minister Hayes said "I want to thank Dr Nuala Ni Fhlatharta, chair of the COFORD Land Availability Working Group and all the members of the group for compiling this report. It is a really important piece of work and one, I have no doubt, that will help us greatly in terms of land classification for afforestation. I am sure it will help to realise our ambitions to expand the forest land resource of the country. Together with the new Environmental Requirements for Afforestation that are now being finalised by the Department, this new land classification system gives us the tools to push on with our ambitious afforestation programme."

The report outlines the physical land resource that is potentially available for afforestation and makes a series of recommendations on how to increase the level of planting.

The Minister continued "as part of this process we have secured a Forestry Programme to 2020, which plans to expand forest cover by a further 43,000 hectares. This package includes attractive grant aid and premium payments, to all landowners, over a 15-year period, who afforest a part of their land holding. It is a fantastic investment opportunity and one that has the potential to contribute significantly to landowners' incomes".

Quoting from the report the Minister added, "On lands classified as being 'limited' for agriculture, representing 1.8 million hectares, there is wider scope for afforestation. These lands have a higher proportion of difficult soils, often economically marginal for agriculture, with forestry presenting a viable alternative land use option."

The Minister concluded by saying, "the take home message of this report is that there is a land asset in Ireland that is eminently suitable to support an increase in forest cover. By examining and implementing recommendations that the report contains, allied to a collective will and capacity, I am convinced that over the coming years we will go a long way towards completing the task of restoring the national forest resource."

The report can be downloaded from www.coford.ie


 

Supporting growth, transparency and diversification of international timber trade

The new web portal www.timbertradeportal.com is an answer of the European Timber Trade Federation (ETTF) to the numerous questions timber traders have when it comes to legal timber trade, due diligence, country requirements and export. It serves as a central information point, where you can find country profiles on both timber industry and legislation of producer countries, mainly located in tropical Africa, Asia and Latin America. Between the end of 2015 and mid 2016 the first selection of 23 country profiles will be published.

To satisfy the due diligence requirements of various EU and other regulations, documentary evidence is required to show that suppliers are operating in accordance with national laws and regulations and this website may help with potential questions when it comes to timber trade, due diligence, country requirements and exports, etc


 

Minister Hayes launches the 2016 ITGA Forestry and Timber Yearbook

The 2016 ITGA Forestry and Timber Yearbook was launched by Tom Hayes TD, Minister of State for forestry at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Speaking at the launch, the Minister said "this publication remains one of the most important sources of information and reference points for those working in the forestry and timber sectors. This has been a significant year for the Forestry sector with the launch of the new Forestry Programme 2016-2020".The yearbook is the 27th Edition and has grown into a substantial 200 page publication.

The mainstay of the publication is the industry directory containing companies, businesses and organisations in the forestry and timber sectors. As a result it has become an essential reference for forestry practitioners, growers and the wider industry.


 

MINISTER COVENEY LAUNCHES FOOD WISE IMPLEMENTATION PLAN

In December 2015 the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, announced the publication of the Implementation Plan for Food Wise 2025. Food Wise 2025, the new strategy for the development of the agri food and forestry sectors over the next decade, was drawn up by an independent committee of stakeholders and experts.

"The Food Wise Implementation Plan forms the final part of the Food Wise strategy process", Minister Coveney said. "It sets out a robust implementation process, driven by a High Level Implementation Committee (HLIC) which I chair personally, involving senior officials from all relevant Government Departments and State Agencies".

Sustainability is at the core of Food Wise which states that "environmental protection and economic competitiveness should be considered as equal and complementary: one will not be achieved at the expense of the other." Food Wise 2025 therefore set out a range of specific recommendations aimed at managing the projected growth in a sustainable way, while protecting and improving the environment.

"The Implementation Plan includes a supplementary list of Food Wise 2025 sustainability actions and recommendations, in response to the final Environmental Analysis report", the Minister concluded. A Sustainability Sub Group of the HLIC will focus specifically on monitoring and driving the implementation of the sustainability actions.


 

Forestry Sector allocated €113.8 million in budget and forestry income removed from the 'High Earners Restriction' for active foresters and farmers

€113.8m will be made available under the Forestry Programme in 2016. This will provide for existing premia payments and support the planting of approximately 7,000 hectares of new forests. "These new forests, in addition to their eventual value as a raw material for the processing industry, will make an important contribution towards meeting climate emission targets through carbon sequestration and fossil fuel replacement" said Minister Hayes TD.

Agri –Taxation Measures
Minister Coveney TD stated in his Budget 2016 press release that 'the removal of forestry income from the 'High Earners Restriction' for active foresters and farmers, means that clear-felling income will be tax-free.'

Referring to the removal of forestry income from the 'High Earners Restriction' for active foresters and farmers is significant measure in support of national forestry policy, Minister Hayes said "I believe that this is a very progressive move, the benefits of which will be felt long into the future".


 

Capital Acquisitions Tax- Agricultural Relief- Finance Act 2014 changes - Frequently Asked Questions

Finance Act 2014 made changes to the capital acquisitions tax (CAT) relief that is available for gifts and inheritances of agricultural property and assets (Agricultural Relief).

A Guide to farming taxation measures contained in Finance Act 2014 (PDF, 79KB) is available. This includes details, inter alia, of the CAT changes. Part 11 of the CAT Manual (Agricultural Relief) (PDF, 153KB) has now been updated to make it more comprehensive and to reflect the Finance Act 2014 changes. The Q & A's at http://www.revenue.ie/en/practitioner/ebrief/2015/no-682015.html deal with these changes and Q.5 and others relate to forestry.


 

Neighbourwoods

The NeighbourWood (NBR) Scheme is a measure in the Forestry Programme 2014-2020 which is focused on delivering social benefits of forestry to local communities. The NeighbourWood Scheme enables local communities to create, in co-operation with Local Authorities or other public bodies, 'close to home' woodlands. A neighbourwood can be a stand-alone amenity, or can be linked with other amenities and attractions in the area, such as parkland, historical buildings, visitor attractions and wider walking or cycle routes.

NeighbourWoods can vary greatly in size and location, from forests in the countryside and on the outskirts of our villages, towns and cities, to woodlands located in our more built-up areas. The common theme is that they all provide an important opportunity for young and old to experience nature and the environment, to see and enjoy forests and to appreciate the rich variety of plants and wildlife that exist in these habitats.

The Scheme, which is administered by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, offers funding of up to 85% of eligible costs (exclusive of VAT). There are three separate elements as follows:

  • 'NeighbourWood Establishment' which funds new NeighbourWoods developed on open 'greenfield' sites;
  • 'NeighbourWood Enhancement' which funds the silvicultural enhancement of existing woodland already used as neighbourwood or proposed for development as neighbourwood; and
  • 'NeighbourWood Facilities' which funds the installation and upgrade of appropriate recreational facilities within an area submitted under NBR Establishment or NBR Enhancement. Typical facilities include entrances, car parking, a variety of looped footpaths, information signage and waymarkers, nature trails, and seats and picnic tables.

The maximum available grant under each element - payable as a single instalment - is as follows:

  • NBR Establishment: €5,000 / ha (plus an additional fencing allowance, as under the Afforestation Scheme)
  • NBR Enhancement: €5,000 / ha
  • NBR Facilities: €3,800 / ha

Individual applications can comprise a combination of NBR Establishment and NBR Enhancement subject to a limit of 12 ha in total, plus NBR Facilities subject to a limit of 12 ha.

As with other aspects of the Forestry Programme launched earlier this year, the overall aim of the NeighbourWood Scheme is to create and develop woodlands - and thereby create a vibrant legacy to be used and enjoyed by this and future generations. Further information can be found at www.agriculture.gov.ie/forestservice/grantsandpremiumschemes2015/


 

Link to Minister Tom Hayes statement to Seanad on Ash Dieback (29/4/15)

Page 657 .........The situation, as it stands, is as follows: there have been a total of 149 confirmed findings of the disease, 59 in plantation forests and the remaining 90 in non-forest locations, such as horticultural nurseries, roadside plantings, garden centres, private gardens and rural environment protection scheme, REPS, and agri-environment options scheme, AEOS, plantings. A total of 113 cases were identified in 2012 and 2013, 30 cases were identified during 2014 and to date in 2015, there have been six new findings.



 

Revenue Guidelines for Forest Owners in relation to Capital Acquisition Tax

It is accepted by the Revenue Commissioners that, for Capital Acquisition Tax (CAT) purposes, the growing of trees is farming agricultural property.

Paragraph 3.4 of the Guide to Farming Taxation Measures in the Finance Act 2014 recognises that if farming involving the occupation of woodland on a commercial basis and with a view to the realisation of profits does not require 20 hours per week to be spent on such farming activities, Revenue will take this into consideration in deciding whether the relief is due and the position is that Revenue will not deny the agricultural relief in those circumstances.

The emphasis of the revised agricultural relief provisions is to ensure that agricultural property is used productively. If the commercial growing of trees only requires a minimum number of hours to be worked per week by a beneficiary or lessee, the agricultural relief will still apply to the woodland in those circumstances.


Progression of new Forestry Act

The new Forestry Act was signed into law by the President in late 2014.

The next part of the legal process is the commencement of the various Sections in the Act. In advance of this commencement, regulations must be drafted to give effect to a number of the provisions of the Act including those dealing with the licensing of felling. These regulations must be signed by the Minister at the same time the Act is commenced. This work, which involves legal input, is now well advanced and the intention would be to have everything in place by early September 2015 for commencement.


 

New Seed Stand and Seed Orchard Scheme launched by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Introduction
The Forest Genetic Resources Reproductive Material: Seed Stand & Seed Orchard Scheme was launched by Minister Tom Hayes on the 6th of June 2015. The scheme, which is 100% state funded, will provide financial support for existing seed stands registered on the National List of Basic Material and the establishment of both indoor and outdoor seed orchards. While the main focus of the Scheme is to increase the resilience, productivity and quality of Irish forests, this new initiative also addresses the potential for forestry to meet the environmental and social needs of society. To this end, the Scheme provides support aimed at the conservation and protection of Ireland's ancient oak woodlands by providing funding to increase acorn production from these forests. This material can then be used in the Native Woodland Scheme which is also supported under the Forestry Programme. Further details regarding the Scheme are available on the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine's website (http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/forestservice/).

Scheme Outline
The Scheme is wholly funded by the exchequer under State aid rules as outlined in the European Guidelines for State aid in the agriculture and forestry sector and in rural areas 2014-2020 (2014/C 204/01). The primary objective of this scheme is to:

  • increase the resilience, productivity and quality of Irish forests;
  • increase self sufficiency in tree seed production;
  • provide for in-situ and ex-situ conservation of forest genetic resources;
  • provide breeding populations of designated broadleaf species (e.g., birch, oak and sycamore).

Only broadleaf seed stands registered on the National List of Basic Material will be funded under the Seed Stand and Seed Orchard Scheme, while the establishment of new seed orchards may include both conifer and broadleaf species. Public and private forest holders including forest nursery owners will be eligible for support.

The scheme itself shall consist of the following elements;

Element 1: Seed Stands
Element 1 is aimed at improving the management and conservation of registered Broadleaf Seed Stands included on the National List of Basic Material so as to increase the frequency, quality and volume of commercial seed production and collection. Grant-aided seed stands must produce seed, as verified by the Department, at least once during the contract period, or evidence must be provided that due to climatic conditions seeding has not occurred at a level to justify collection. Element 1 also facilitates the management and conservation of ancient woodland oak stands registered in the category 'Source Identified' for the purpose of gene conservation, so as to increase the frequency, quality and volume of acorns produced and collected for biodiversity-focused planting elsewhere.

Element 2: Seed Orchards
Element 2 will support the establishment of new seed orchards, both clonal and seedling, both indoor and outdoor.

Grant Rates
Grant assistance will be in respect of costs necessarily incurred in the management of Seed Stands and in the establishment of Seed Orchards subject to the maximum limit laid down in the table below. Outdoor seed orchards are eligible for a premium towards the cost of maintenance of €500/hectare each year for 7 years following establishment.



Application procedure and further Information
Applications for approval and all queries and documentation regarding the scheme should be directed to Mr. Brian Clifford, Forest Sector Development Division, Agriculture House 3W, Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: + 353 1 6072683 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Work may only commence following written approval from the Forest Service. The measure shall be administered by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and shall operate throughout the State.


 

Government Plans to invest €482m in Forestry

Highlights:

  • €482m of new investment in forestry
  • 44,000ha of new forests, 700km of new forest roads
  • 20% higher premium payments, 5% higher afforestation grants, 14% higher road grants
  • New species with rotations of 10-15 years
  • More native trees

The investment package announced by Government in December will lead to the
establishment of almost 44,000 hectares of new forests and nearly 700km of new forests roads.

Read more...

For more information on the New Forestry Programme, see Department website:


 

News on New Forestry Schemes

Native Woodlands Scheme (Establishment)
This scheme is open for applications and has a mainly environmental focus and is aimed at extending native woodland cover and associated biodiversity in Natura 2000, acid sensitive sites and riparian areas. Support under this scheme is provided for the planting of native broadleaves and the retention of species rich habitats such as fens and species rich grasslands. Close to nature forest management is encouraged under this scheme.

Forestry for Fibre Scheme
This scheme is now open for applications and provides an opportunity for land owners to plant trees for fuel or for supply to other end uses such as panel board manufacture. This scheme supports the growing of productive tree species to produce wood biomass yields in the region of 150-300 m3 /ha over 10-15yrs. Eligible species are: Italian Alder Hybrid Aspen Eucalyptus Poplar (preference to improved genetic material). Trees are planted at a minimum of 2000 plants per ha (A reduced grant rate is available for Aspen when planted at 1,400 trees per ha). Minimum area 0.1 ha. The scheme does not fund short rotation coppice or Christmas trees.

Agro-Forestry Scheme
This scheme is also open for applications and aimed at farmers who wish to plant forest but who also wish to use their land for grazing or silage. This provides farmers with an opportunity to become involved in forestry on a small scale to grow high quality hardwood while also maintaining their existing agricultural income stream. A stocking rate of 400-1000 trees per ha is required and aiming for final spacing of 160-250 trees, minimum plot size and width will be 0.5 ha and 20 m respectively. Suitable species are mainly Oak, Sycamore and Cherry (other species considered on application). Trees must be protected by tree shelters for 6-8 years, and replaced with plastic mesh after 6-8yrs. The grant rate is 80% of eligible costs up to certain maximum rates.

The Woodland Improvement Scheme (Thinning and tending)
The Woodland Improvement Scheme (thinning and tending) is now open to applicants and follows the same rules and specifications as the previous scheme (The ITGA notes that the ?20k individual limit no longer applies to this scheme). This scheme is aimed specifically at broadleaf forests where support is provided to improve the health and vitality of these forests by removing malformed, wolf or diseased trees, Thinning encourages growth of potential crop trees and by managing natural regeneration. These activities improve the visual amenity of the forest thereby enhancing the landscape. Forests which have been thinned can also play an important role in soil and water protection where healthier trees are better placed to perform these functions. Broadleaf forests can slow down surface water runoff in water catchments reducing sedimentation\eutrophication of nearby watercourses. These services are enhanced by ground vegetation that is encouraged to grow once the canopy is opened up leading to more light reaching the forest floor.

The Forest Service is working on finalising a number of the new Forestry Schemes to be introduced under the New Forestry Programme. Some of these schemes include;

The Environmental Enhancement element of the Woodland Improvement Scheme is expected to be launched later this year.

Native Woodland Scheme (Conservation)
The Forest Service are currently working on this Native Woodland Scheme (Conservation) and it is hoped that this scheme will open this summer with scheme details available at that time. This scheme aims to enhance existing native woodlands and establish new native forests and provide for the protection of endangered species such as the freshwater pearl mussel. The target is to establish 60 ha of NWS (Conservation) per annum and improve the conservation status of the freshwater pearl mussel in the eight priority catchments. Support for example would include converting conifer forests growing along riparian zones to native woodlands using close-to-nature forestry. Ground vegetation would be encouraged to grow, acting as a filter reducing sedimentation from within the catchment. This would also have the effect of stabilising vulnerable river banks and protecting the soil from erosion.


 

2015 Irish Forestry Awards

The RDS was ahead of the game when it initiated the first Irish Forestry Awards in 1987. Almost thirty years on these awards remain the only awards in this area and are highly regarded throughout the forestry industry. With a prize fund of €10,000, the Irish Forestry Awards celebrate excellence in an increasingly vital component of rural Ireland's economy and facilitate learning from the successes of others.

Mr Tom Kirley, RDS Committee of Agriculture Chairman, said "The RDS has a long history of working in forestry that dates back to 1740, but it is future that we are excited about. The 2015 Irish Forestry Awards, and the changes introduced, will help the RDS identify the very best foresters in the country who will act as an example for others to follow and showcase the vast potential that forestry offers rural Ireland."

The three awards categories mean the competition is open to all and recognise those who are at the forefront of the economic, environmental and community development of forestry in Ireland.

The Production Forestry Category is divided into two sections; Under 15 Hectares and Over 15 Hectares and is open to Farmers and landowners using sound silvicultural management on their farms. While the focus is on the management of the area for wood production, judges will also take into account diversity of species, particularly native trees such as Ash, Birch, Oak, Willow, etc., to ensure greater efficiency and quality in the development of the sector.

The Multipurpose Forestry category is open to individuals and organisations who are expanding or developing existing or new forest habitats through natural and environmentally sensitive methods. Judges will take into account the planning and management of the area, ecological awareness, social benefit, silviculture methods, control of grazing animals and invasive species as well as sensitive felling and thinning.

The Community Woodland Award is designed to encourage and reward projects involving community woodlands and forests which have been established and managed in a way which is sustainable and beneficial to the landscape, the local people, biodiversity and the economy. This Award is open to woodland owners or managers from the public and voluntary sectors.

Everyone with woodlands is encouraged to enter the Awards as all woodlands, large or small, are of merit. Application forms are available on the RDS website: www.rds.ie/agriculture or via email from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Closing date for entries is June 12, 2015. If you require any additional information please contact the RDS Agriculture Foundation Department directly on 01 240 7215.


 

Report highlights how productive woodlands can reduce flood risk and protect waterways

PLANTING productive woodland in specific areas could reduce the risk of flooding, according to a study by Confor and Forest Research (UK) which highlights the role productive woodland can play in lessening the likelihood of floods - as well as offering significant potential improvements to the water environment and a range of additional economic and environmental benefits.

The report notes that forests and woodland can reduce flooding in several ways:

  • The greater water use of trees reduces flood volumes
  • The higher infiltration rates of woodland soils reduces rapid surface run-off of water, reducing flood generation
  • The 'hydraulic roughness' of trees, shrubs and large woody debris acts as a drag on flood waters, slowing flows
  • Trees protect soil from erosion, decreasing the amount of sediment going into watercourses and reducing the need for dredging. It also highlights how productive woodland can deliver specific benefits, including:
  • Water use tends to be highest for productive conifer woodland
  • Drier soils under productive woodland may make them better to receive and store rainfall
  • In general, larger areas of planting offer greater water benefits and productive woodlands tend to be on a larger scale as they are more economical and attractive to landowners.
  • Reducing pollutants in the water Multiple additional benefits include driving investment and job creation in the forestry sector, reducing imports by securing domestic timber supplies and capturing carbon.

The report says: "Society is increasingly threatened by flooding while the water environment remains seriously impacted by a range of human pressures. There is strong evidence to support woodland creation in appropriate locations to help manage these issues." It concludes: "There is a strong case for further investment in well-targeted woodland creation to help meet a wide range of environmental and social goals." (including the Floods Directive, Water Framework Directive, Biodiversity 2020, greenhouse gas reduction, climate change adaptation and rural economic growth).

The Report published by published by Confor: promoting forestry and wood, and Forest Research, is available at: www.confor.org.uk

 


 

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Coillte agrees sale of 375 acre site at Newcastle Wood, Ballymahon to Center Parcs

Center Parcs, a leader in the UK family short break market, has recently announced plans to develop a holiday village at Newcastle Wood, five kilometres from Ballymahon, County Longford.
The 375 acre site is currently owned by Coillte and Center Parcs has signed an option agreement with the company.
The new Center Parcs, which is expected to open to guests in 2019 (subject to receiving satisfactory planning permission), will create approximately 750 jobs during construction. Once open, the €200 million development will have capacity for up to 2,500 guests and will employ up to 1,000 people in permanent jobs.
Center Parcs estimates that, when operational, the new holiday village will add approximately €32 million to Irish GDP per annum.
Speaking at the announcement of this exciting project, Mark Foley, Managing Director of Coillte Enterprise, said:
"Coillte is delighted to have been able to play its part in facilitating this major inwards investment opportunity through the sale of forest land to Center Parcs. Coillte is particularly pleased that this opportunity will deliver quality jobs in this exciting and sustainable tourism initiative. Tourism has been identified as a key sector for growth in jobs and Coillte, as Ireland's largest provider of outdoor recreation, welcomes this major project."


 

Agri-taxation Working Group Report presented to Minister

The Agri-taxation Working Group Report was presented to the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine last October 2014 to fulfil its mandate to examine agri-taxation measures and to make recommendations to ensure resources are directed towards activities of maximum benefit to this sector of the economy. The Agri-taxation Working Group in its Report acknowledged under 'Forestry issues;' that 'Profits from Occupation of Woodlands are tax exempt (and are seen as vital if targets in this area are to be met) but Income from forestry is subject to the 'High Earners Restriction'. This issue came up in a number of submissions as it is influencing harvesting behaviour. Also those who engage in forestry cannot avail of income averaging.'
For more details, see Recommendations made by Agri-taxation Working Group Report in relation to Forestry


 

Minister Announces Grant Awards for Forest Research

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, TD, and Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Forestry Tom Hayes T.D., announced awards for research projects under the Department’s COFORD competitive research funding programme. These awards arise from the Department’s 2014 Call for Research proposals.
Minister of State Tom Hayes, TD, with responsibility for Forestry, said "I particularly welcome the forestry research awards which, in a sense, are the first fruits of the 'Forest Research Ireland' strategic agenda that I launched in October, developed by a forest industry led group and which helped inform the COFORD part of this year's Research Call."
Details on the five new forest research projects awarded can be found in News on COFORD Research Awards


 

Public Consultation on discussion document on the potential for Greenhouse Gas (GHG) mitigation within the Agriculture and Forestry Sector

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is facilitating a public consultation process inviting written submissions from interested parties on a discussion document on the potential for greenhouse gas mitigation within the agriculture and forestry sectors. It is planned to complete this sectoral plan in the coming months. Submissions received will be considered by the Department in the formation of the agriculture and forestry sector inputs to the national mitigation plan. Please note that any submissions submitted may be published or otherwise disclosed.

The deadline for receipt of submissions is Monday 23rd March 2015

The discussion document may be found on the Department website:
A discussion document on the potential for Greenhouse Gas (GHG) mitigation within the Agriculture and Forestry sector (PDF)

Submissions in respect of the discussion document can be sent by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


 

University of Oxford scientists highlight growing trees as best technology in combating Climate Change

University of Oxford scientists at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment have recently published a Working Paper* that highlights the significant benefits of planting trees to take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and assist with mitigating climate change.

The authors outline how Negative Emissions Technologies (NETs) have the potential to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and this could reduce the impacts of ocean acidification and climate change.

NETs are a family of technologies that encompass diverse options, including: Afforestation, Agricultural Soil Carbon Sequestration, Biochar, Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), Direct Air Capture (DAC), Ocean Liming, Enhanced Weathering, and Ocean Fertilisation.

To read more, see University of Oxford scientists highlight growing trees as best technology

Link to Full Working paper: Stranded Carbon Assets and Negative Emissions Technologies - Working Paper (February 2015)


 

EUROPEAN FOREST INSTITUTE NEWS

Europe's forests are increasingly under pressure from wind, bark beetles, and wildfires
Climate change is already altering the environment. Long-lived ecosystems such as forests are particularly vulnerable to the comparatively rapid changes in the climate system. A new international study published in Nature Climate Change shows that damage from wind, bark beetles, and wildfires has increased drastically in Europe’s forests in recent years. "Disturbances like windthrow and forest fires are part of the natural dynamics of forest ecosystems, and are not, therefore, a catastrophe for the ecosystem as such. However, these disturbances have intensified considerably in recent decades, which increasingly challenges the sustainable management of forest ecosystems", says Rupert Seidl, BOKU Vienna, the principal researcher involved in the study.

The authors show that damage caused by forest disturbance has increased continuously over the last 40 years in Europe, reaching 56 million cubic meters of timber per year in the period 2002 – 2010. Scenario analyses for the coming decades also suggest a continuation of this trend: the study estimates that forest disturbances will increase damage by another million cubic meters of timber every year over the next 20 years. This increase amounts to the approximate timber volume stocking on a forest area corresponding to 7000 soccer fields. The scientists identified climate change as the main driver behind this increase: under assumed stable climatic conditions no substantial further increases in forest disturbances beyond the current levels were found in their simulations. Damage from forest fires was particularly estimated to increase on the Iberian Peninsula, while bark beetle damage increased most strongly in the Alps. Wind damage would be seen to rise most notably in Central and Western Europe.

Increasing disturbances amplify climate change
There is strong feedback from forest disturbances on the climate system. Currently, Europe’s forests are mitigating climate change by taking up large quantities of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. The carbon loss from increasing tree mortality and disturbance could, however, reduce this uptake and reverse the positive effects of forest management aimed at reducing climate change. The climate-induced increase in forest disturbance could thus further amplify the progression of climate change. In this respect, adapted management strategies, such as increased biodiversity and optimized thinning interventions in Europe’s forests, can buffer these carbon losses and support the climate change mitigation function of forests. Europe’s forest management will thus need to adapt to changing disturbances in order to keep sustaining the diverse set of ecosystem services provided to society in the future, the study concludes.

More information:
Rupert Seidl, Werner Rammer, BOKU Vienna, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Mart-Jan Schelhaas, Alterra, Wageningen UR, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Hans Verkerk, EFI, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Link to the publication and its abstract: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2318


 

MINISTER HAYES LAUNCHES COFORD REPORT MOBILISING IRELAND'S FOREST RESOURCE

Minister of State Tom Hayes has launched a COFORD report on the mobilisation of roundwood to meet growing demands for wood fuel and sawn timber in Ireland. The report has been authored by the COFORD wood mobilisation group which comprised growers and processors, Coillte, Teagasc, the Northern Ireland Forest Service, and officials from the Forest Service.
Read More...


 

PEFC Forest Management Certification Update

PEFC International's expansion the world over continues to grow apace. About 255 million hectares of forest are now certified to PEFC endorsed standards, represented by over 750,000 forest owners. During the last year both the Chinese and Indonesian forest certification schemes have been endorsed by PEFC, representing a significant advance for sustainable forest management in South East Asia. The rapid growth of PEFC to become the world's largest certification system and its popularity among family and community forest owners are a testament to the solid foundation on which PEFC is built and its importance in promoting sustainable forest management globally.

Nearly 16,000 companies have achieved PEFC Chain of Custody certification, and in addition the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), one of the largest global industry networks, now recommends PEFC certification as an integral part of its set of guidelines designed to help achieve zero net deforestation by 2020. The CGF brings together more than 400 of the world's largest retailers, manufacturers and service providers from 70 countries, and with combined sales of €2.5 trillion, so this move is a further significant independent endorsement of PEFC.

Concerns surrounding possibly the two greatest challenges currently facing mankind, namely climate change and the energy crisis, have highlighted more than ever the importance attached to managing the world's forests responsibly. Sustainable forest management has a crucial role to play in combating global warming, and wood is an important component in the hunt for alternatives to fossil fuels. PEFC initiatives remain at the forefront in tackling these issues.

At home, we are pleased to report that Coillte was awarded PEFC forest management certification by its certification body NSAI in June 2014. For private owners, work has been completed on laying the foundations of a Group Certification Scheme, and it is anticipated that 2015 will see the first private group scheme ready to apply for forest management certification. Furthermore, in the manufacturing sector a number of joinery companies have been added to the list of PEFC Ireland chain of custody certified members.

For further details, visit the PEFC Ireland website www.pefc.ie, or contact the National Secretary William Merivale at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Update on assessment of windblow damage to forests

Over the early summer considerable progress was made with the assessment of wind damage as part of the National Windblow Taskforce. RapidEye satellite imagery was purchased which showed wind damage in woodlands where individual coupes of over c. 0.5 hectare in area were blown. As part of its contribution, Coillte set up new IT infrastructure to process this data and its staff undertook the pre-processing and classification of the satellite imagery.

Summary information and data can be sourced from presentation given by Daniel McInerney of Coillte on the work undertaken by Coillte on the processing and classification of the RapidEye satellite imagery.

The full presentation can be found on: www.agriculture.gov.ie/media/migration/forestry/windblown/Rapid%20Assessment%20of%20Storm%20Damage.pdf

The Windblow Taskforce is chaired by Minister of State, Tom Hayes TD and is made up of the following organisations: Coillte, DAFM-Forest Service, Irish Farmers Association (IFA), Irish Forest and Forest Products Association (IFFPA) and the Irish Timber Growers Association (ITGA).


LAUNCH OF TIMBER TRANSPORT GUIDE

A Good Practice Guide, Managing Timber Transport, was jointly launched on a trial basis by Minister of State for Forestry, Tom Hayes TD and Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) Alan Kelly TD.

The Guide provides a framework for partnership in relation to good practice between all stakeholders, forest owners and agents, timber industry, timber haulage managers and local authorities. The trial period of some twelve months will allow the strengths and weaknesses of the Guide to be determined so that the final document will be as supportive as possible for all stakeholders.

The Guidelines will form part of a package of measures to include:-

  • A Technical Standard for the Design of Forest Entrances from Public Roads
  • Data exchange on Forest Locations and Age
  • Timber Harvest Forecasting
  • Designated Timber Transport Routes (using the local authority roads management information system MapRoad)
  • Industry liaison through the Forest Industry Transport Group
  • Code of Practice for Road Haulage around Timber
  • Reduced Vehicle Tyre Pressure Technologies
  • Support Forestry and Public Road research
  • Proposed simplification of consent system for forest roads

The aim is to seek effective systems for managing road entrances and timber transport that balances the interests of all stakeholders.

The forest industry is of increasing importance to the national economy and is set for further significant growth with the annual timber harvest projected to double over the next 15 years. Virtually all of this increase in the roundwood timber harvest is from the private sector. The objective of the Good Practice Guide is to develop a partnership approach for the management of round timber transport and to ensure that this activity is carried out in an environmentally sustainable and economically viable manner.

There are a number of recommendations within the guide which the Forest Industry Transport Group will endeavour to progress over the next few years and these will serve to benefit not only those involved in the timber industry but also local communities.

The Guide was developed by the Forest Industry Transport Group with support from all the major participants in the industry, these include DAFM, DTTAS, Coillte, Timber Haulage Contractors, Irish Forestry and Forest Products Association, IFA, Local Authorities, UCD, Irish Timber Council and the Irish Timber Growers Association.


New Forestry Apps on Display at INTERFORST 2014

The recent international trade show INTERFORST 2014 in Munich showcased a range of new and interesting apps for forestry. The development of Mobile Applications for forestry is certainly on the increase. Many will save time and improve efficiency in both the field and the office.

The Swiss app MOTI (HAFL Zollikofen) takes advantage of Smartphone technology for the simple and convenient capturing of key variables concerning the condition of forests. Developed by the Bern University School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences, this Android application is specifically designed for forestry professionals to capture field data, through a Smartphone camera, including basal area, number of trees per ha, tree height and stocking, as a single measurement combined in a sample plot, or at the level of a stand inventory with automatic calculation of the error range of the estimations. The app appears to be designed for common Swiss tree species and growth models. An English version of this app is available free of charge from Google Play.

Quite a few of the applications being demonstrated at the international trade show relied on GIS technology. A number of applications integrated GPS data and photo data to indentify locations of timber stacks in the forest to facilitate the collection of timber by hauliers ('Polter im Wald' by Intend). In one application (Help in the Forest, by Intend) the App determined where the nearest Assembly point, Ambulance, Fire Rescue, Police was located in case of an emergency.

Some applications went a step further and not only register the GPS data of timber stacks, but also photo optically document and calculate the number of stems in the stacks. This photo optic measuring of timber stacks was central to a number of applications on show. Means of gathering photo optic data ranged from mobile phone (WaldFliege by Inforst) to iPhone/iPad (iFovea by Fovea) to the use of machine/car mounted cameras (Polterluchs by Wahler). The new photo optic software applications all claim to be the future European standard for wood logistics, enabling a simple, compact and paper-free wood logistics chain.

The use of the mobile phone or tablet as a mobile office is central to a lot of new apps. The focus of the apps is on streamlining data, cutting down on post-editing of data in the office, linking data entries with photo or video records, linking notes and pictures with GPS coordinates, and sharing information instantly with colleagues, clients or customers. Terranote by Nubix was one of many handy Apps on show to facilitate common tasks in forestry such as documentation of damage, forest monitoring, hunting, etc.

ForstTotal, a logistics management system, aims to streamline the entire process from standing tree to consumer through a cloud based communication process where the various groups involved in the timber trade each upload/download data into the cloud.

In addition to apps for forest managers there were also apps on display for machinery operators. TimberLink (launched by John Deere) is a machine performance and condition monitoring system. Machine operators can keep track of the performance of one or more machines and ensure that they run optimally. TimberLink allows the machine's performance to be monitored during normal operation on a harvesting site. The operator can also make adjustments to the machine's settings in order to optimise performance with the conditions of a specific site in mind.

Prof. Dr. Christian Rosset of Bern University School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences, gave a talk at INTERFORST 2014 entitled 'Things the world needs? Apps for the forestry industry' in which he outlined a number of the apps on display at the trade show as well as some apps that are currently in the pipeline. It is evident that the development of many useful apps is well under way.

Links to the apps mentioned in this article can be found under Tools & Gadgets on this site


Forestry Investment over 3, 5 and 10 years outperforms equities, bonds and property in UK

The IPD UK Annual Forestry Index has shown a total return of 15.8% for the year to the end of 2013, a step down from the 18.6% seen in 2012 but continuing the trend for very strong performance by forestry investment in the UK. The three-year annualised total return of 22.2% is nearly triple the 8.5% annualised total return achieved over the past 21 years. The decade to the end of 2013 has seen continuous stellar performance by UK forestry investment with annualised total returns of 22.2%, 19.7% and 17.9% over 3, 5 & 10 years respectively and no years of negative returns. This performance should be noted for its superiority over commercial property, residential property, equities and gilts in all cases over 3, 5 and 10 years according to IPD.

The previous decade represented tougher times for UK forestry, having underperformed other UK property classes but nonetheless maintaining superiority over the core asset classes, equities and gilts with an annualised total return of 8.5% over the full 21 year timeframe. The South of Scotland remained the best performing region of the sample over five years with an annualised total return of 23.3% year on year to the end of 2013. Also the largest region, this area contains 62 forests and represents over 50% of the total value. All other regions posted very strong annualised total returns in the three years to 2013, ranging from 18.8% in Wales to 23.9% in North Scotland. The South of Scotland has been the strongest performing region over the 21 year history of the index with an annualised total return of 10.6%, several percentage points in excess of all the other regions. Notably timber sales by weight of value were once again markedly above average in the North of England in 2013 at 7.7%, suggesting high levels of harvesting helped drive performance in this region.

Mark Weedon, Vice President, IPD commented: "The IPD UK Annual Forestry Index return over 21 years to December 2013 rose to 8.5%. Forestry is a long-term investment and has shown low correlation with equity performance, but does show performance trends in response to the fundamental return drivers. Land-based assets are providing an alternative home for cash deposits in times of low interest rates and for investors in general, seeking less volatile markets. The value of land underlying forests continues to rise in real terms and is increasingly important as a determinant of returns."

Edward Daniels of FIM Services Ltd commented: "On a long term basis, forestry continues to outperform equities and gilts and provides investors with a stable, low risk, alternative investment. The future looks encouraging for forestry owners with timber prices expected to remain at comparatively high levels as demand from the construction industry picks up. RICS forecast house starts to be 15,500 in 2014, up 24% from 2013, and 55% from 2012."

Jason Sinden, Head of Investment & Property at UPM Tilhill added: "The latest IPD results show that UK Forestry has been the top performing investment class over the last 10 years. However, with UK timber prices continuing to increase, the sector still looks a good investment. "When you invest in forestry, the main costs are at the time of investment, with returns often many years in the future. As such returns are subject to price increases, this makes investing in trees an excellent hedge against inflation."

The IPD UK Annual Forestry Index is calculated from a sample of private sector coniferous plantations of predominantly Sitka spruce in mainland Britain. By the end of 2013 the 143 forest holdings in the index had a total capital value of £237.2m.

For further information visit www.ipd.com

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