• The total estimated economic output (direct and indirect) of the forest industry to the Irish economy is approximately €2.3 billion annually.
  • The Irish forestry and timber sector includes growing the forests, harvesting and haulage and processing the various wood products.
  • 11% of Ireland's land area is currently under forestry amounting to 770,020 hectares which supports a vibrant, export-oriented forest products sector.
  • 83% of the forests afforested since 1980 have been planted by farmers.
  • Approximately 86% of the output from Ireland's panel products sector is exported along with almost 80% of our sawn timber production.
  • Wood based panel exports mainly comprised oriented strand board (OSB) and medium density fibreboard (MDF), manufactured by Masonite, Medite and SmartPly. Key export markets were the UK and the Benelux countries.
  • With its climate and suitable soils Ireland can grow many tree species considerably faster than its European neighbours giving Ireland a strong comparative advantage in the growing of wood fibre.
  • From a very low private ownership base in the 1970's, currently 49% of Ireland's forests are privately owned with the remainder in public ownership, mainly vested in Coillte.
  • Nearly three quarters of the stocked forest area is less than 30 years of age.
  • Most of the private forests were planted over the past 30 years, consequently many are at or approaching thinning stage and the output from these woodlands is set to increase significantly in the coming years.
  • This roundwood volume (timber in trees) to come to market is forecast to increase from 3.69 million cubic metres (m3) in 2018 to 7.86 million m3 in 2035. In short, the volumes of roundwood available within the Republic of Ireland are set to more than double over this forecast period. Almost all of this increase in supply of roundwood is forecast to come from the Private sector.
  • In 2012 total employment generated by activities in the forest and wood products sector was 12,000 full time.
  • Apart from climate change benefits, forests provide the largest outdoor area for recreational use. This in turn generates considerable economic activity for communities in rural areas. Visits to Irish forests are estimated to be over 29 million visits per annum.
  • There is a significant potential for wood fuel to displace fossil fuel, particularly in the generation of heat in industrial, commercial, domestic and institutional markets.
  • After wind energy, wood fuels are the largest contributor to renewable energy generation in Ireland.
  • The national forest estate is an important carbon reservoir, amounting to 311.7 million tonnes of carbon in 2017.

 

Other Useful Forest Industry Facts can be found in the following publications:

 

Last Updated: December 2019

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