Success reflects sectors abilities
FORESTRY.IE have teamed up with Soil Association Certification to promote their courses here to the forestry community.
In recent years, Ireland has been making significant progress in Forest Certification in the private sector. In 2018, in a major initiative supported by DAFM two Forestry Producer Groups achieved Forest Certification to an international Forest Management Standard, the first such producer groups in Ireland to achieve this recognition. Since then, at least two private forestry companies have successfully achieved Forest Certification.
This November, Ireland will be hosting the International PEFC General Assembly and Certification week which is a first for our country and which will see international delegates participating from around the world. It will give Ireland's forestry sector a significant profile and reflects a sector that has considerable abilities and potential despite the difficulties it currently faces.
Acknowledging these developments, Soil Association have just announced a series of training courses to be held in Ireland in order to facilitate foresters who wish to access accredited training courses in forest certification without having to travel abroad. Soil Association Certification have teamed up with FORESTRY.IE to promote the courses here to the wider forestry community to be held from 24th August - 3rd September 2020.
ITGA make submissions on behalf of sector
The Irish Timber Growers Association (ITGA) regularly responds to calls for submissions on behalf of timber growers and the sector on a range of topics. In January 2020, the Association made a submission to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) on Draft National Climate & Air Roadmap for the Agriculture sector. The main points of the ITGA submission are summarised below; ITGA pointed out that there are significant opportunities for the forestry sector to play a major role in the transition to a low carbon, climate resilient economy and society for the future. Forestry's role in the Climate and Air Roadmap for the agriculture and land use sector should be prioritised given its carbon sequestration potential and ability to displace emissions from other farming systems.
Afforestation and creation of new woodlands
From various studies, it has been estimated by COFORD that there is a need to continue afforestation at a level of 15,000 hectares per annum for the next two decades to sustain the ability of our national forest estate to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the longer term. Achieving this aim will also provide a renewable energy resource into the future by facilitating the replacement of fossil fuels as a source of energy through the utilisation of forest residues as biomass. In addition, an afforestation programme of 15,000 hectares per annum will also ensure sustainable raw material for construction and a range of other uses with knock on benefits for the longer term storage of carbon. Expansion of the national forest estate should therefore be a key component of Ireland's National Climate Change and Land Use Policy. This objective must therefore be given priority in the National Climate and Air Roadmap for the Agriculture Sector to 2030 and beyond.
Potential wider role for forestry in National Climate and Air Roadmap
The forestry sector provides a range of opportunities to mitigate rises in greenhouse gas levels, including:
- active forest management;
- reduced deforestation (land use change from forest to non-forest);
- increased use of wood products;
- use of forest products for bioenergy to replace fossil fuel use.
The following must be encouraged and prioritised in the National Climate and Air Roadmap for the Agriculture Sector by including specific actions in the roadmap to ensure our national forest's role is maximised in climate change mitigation:
- Increasing significantly the afforestation rate to achieve stated Forest Policy targets.
- Fostering and supporting active forest management
- Encouraging roundwood and also forest residue mobilisation
- Increasing the use of wood products
- Utilising a wider range of forest products for bioenergy to replace fossil fuels
- Knowledge Transfer and innovative forest technology to facilitate lower emissions from the supply chain.
The European Environment Agency (EEA) have estimated a figure of 1,510 premature deaths in Ireland in 2014 (EEA 2017) directly attributable to air quality. World Health Organisation (WHO) guideline values were exceeded at a number of monitoring sites in Ireland for particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), ozone, SO2 and NO2: Forests remove harmful pollution from the environment and this is becoming increasingly well recognised. In the UK Environmental Accounts for woodland ecosystems for example (not available in Ireland), it is estimated that UK woodlands removed more harmful pollution (and carbon dioxide) from the atmosphere than any other habitat, valued at £1.8 billion in 2015. This positive role of forestry and trees in removing harmful emissions and improving air quality should be referenced in the National Climate and Air Roadmap for the Agriculture Sector.
Given the sequestration potential of forestry in addition to the positive returns to farmer from forestry on competing marginal lands, the current draft National Climate and Air Roadmap for the Agriculture Sector to 2030 and beyond requires rebalancing in regard to the potential contribution of forestry.
The Irish Timber Growers Association regularly responds to calls for submissions on behalf of timber growers and the sector on a range of topics. Over the past 6 months, the Association has submitted the following to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). (For the full submissions just click on the links below):
- ITGA submission to DAFM on Draft National Climate & Air Roadmap for the Agriculture Sector (January 2020)
- ITGA submission to DAFM on the Interim Standards for Felling and Reforestation (November 2019)
- ITGA submission to the DAFM on Plant Health and Biosecurity Strategy 2020 - 2025 (September 2019)
- ITGA Submission on Statement of Strategy 2020-2023 (August 2019)
- ITGA submission on draft Climate Change Adaptation Plan in Agriculture, Forest and Seafood Sector (August 2019)
Ireland launches IYPH 2020 with Ceremonial Tree Planting
President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins planted a Native “Sessile Oak” tree in the Phoenix Park to commemorate Ireland’s launch of International Year of Plant Health 2020.
The importance of protecting plants, wildlife and our natural environment has been a constant theme throughout the Presidency of Michael D. Higgins. The President has particularly highlighted the impact of climate change, stating that contemporary society will be "judged by future generations as to whether we averted our gaze from the vulnerabilities of our planet or had the empathy necessary to celebrate our interdependency".
For full press release, see President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins ceremonial planting
Mackinnon Review of Approval Processes for Afforestation in Ireland published
The Review of Approval Processes for Afforestation in Ireland by Mr. Jim Mackinnon has now been published. Implementation of the recommendations in this report would be an important step towards Ireland achieving its Climate Change ambitions.
For full report, see Review of Approval Processes for Afforestation in Ireland
Minister Launches DAFM Plant Health and Biosecurity Strategy
DAFM’s Plant Health and Biosecurity Strategy launched by Minister of State Andrew Doyle, T.D. following a consultative process earlier in the year. A key recommendation is to devise public awareness campaigns and build on plant health awareness campaigns at national events, complemented and enhanced by national, EU and international events and promotions of plant health through the UN International Year of Plant Health 2020.
For full press release, see Minister Launches DAFM Plant Health and Biosecurity Strategy
'Think Forests' - Forest Industries Ireland publication launched
'Ireland enjoys a natural competitive advantage in producing timber from our fast growing forests. The industry is proud to be delivering quality jobs in our rural communities and making a major contribution to the Irish economy, society and environment.
Forest Industries Ireland - Placing timber and forestry at the heart of Ireland’s rural economy.'
For publication, see Think Forests
New Grant Schemes for Forest Owners
Mr. Andrew Doyle T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, recently announced the opening of three new measures to support biodiversity of Irish forests. These include:
- A new scheme to support Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF)
- A new Deer Tree Shelter and Deer/Hare Fencing Scheme
- Changes to the Woodland Improvement Scheme (WIS) to introduce grant aid to carry out a second thinning intervention for broadleaf forests.
Certification of private forests - Sector must work together
Ireland exports approximately 80% of its timber products and these export markets require products to be certified. Under the two main international certification schemes, timber processors can take in a maximum of 30% of non-certified wood (controlled wood) from sustainably managed or controlled sources in their log supply to be permitted to label their output as certified.
In the coming years, most timber processors will be taking in more than this proportion of wood from private forests and hence the looming need for certification of private woodlands. Within just six years, private forests are forecast to produce more roundwood than Coillte forests.
With very few private forests currently certified (less than 3% of our private forest area), the question arises as to how this lack of certified timber will impact on our sawmillers ability to export their products and what impact this will have on prices paid for roundwood from our private forests. It takes 12 - 18 months to fully establish a Certification Group Scheme for a number of growers and potentially a lot longer to build a critical mass of timber supply from such groups.
Our forestry and timber sector must now plan and work together to accommodate the increased volume of timber coming from private forests so as our end markets, which demand certified timber, are not put at risk.
Minister Doyle presented with COFORD Council publications
Mr. Andrew Doyle T.D, Minister for State with responsibility for Forestry, was presented with a collection of COFORD reports on a range of important forestry issues. The reports were completed by the COFORD Council which is a stakeholder-led advisory body to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on matters related to forestry.
The six reports presented to the Minister mark the output of six different COFORD working groups and are:
- Forests, products and people - Ireland's Forest Policy - A Report on Policy Implementation with Recommendations
- Forest Land Availability Implementation Group Report
- Wood Supply and Demand on the Island of Ireland to 2025 Report
- Mobilising Irelands Forest Resource - Meeting the Challenges
- Longer Term Forest Research Report
- Species Mixtures in Irish Forests - A Review
Speaking at the launch in Dublin Minister Doyle said: These reports demonstrate the importance of stakeholder collaboration and the COFORD Council provides an ideal platform to discuss a range of issues and provide advice to my Department on matters related to forestry. These are wide-ranging reports from land-use to forestry research which will help to inform Government policy going forward. The progress report on the implementation of Ireland's forest policy outlines that significant progress has been achieved in a number of policy areas. However, I am conscious that more needs to be done and I will continue to look at areas identified where more progress is required.
The Minister also announced that he would be appointing a new Council for another three-year term which will run from 2019 to 2021. The Minister thanked the outgoing Chairman Michael Lynn, for his dedication and stewardship over the last 11 years.
Tree Pest Alert: The eight-toothed spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus) has been discovered in Kent
Woodland managers, land owners, the forest industry and tree nurseries that supply mature conifer specimens are being urged to remain vigilant after the Forestry Commission identified a breeding population of the eight-toothed spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus) in Kent. This was as part of routine surveillance activity.
Live adults have occasionally been trapped during routine monitoring at sites such as mills and ports handling imported wood.
It could cause significant damage to Sitka spruce-based forestry and timber industries if it became established in our forests.
For information on identifying the eight-toothed spruce bark beetle, see Forestry Commission Guidance
Doyle welcomes Forestry Safety Seminar
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, Andrew Doyle, T.D., has welcomed the Forestry Safety Seminar being held by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) at the Teagasc Office, Mellows Campus, Athenry, Co. Galway.< br />
Minister of State Doyle added that 'Health & Safety in forest management' is one of the mandatory subjects to be covered by the Forestry Knowledge Transfer Groups which are currently being formed.' He also welcomed the publication by the HSA of ten new forestry safety guidance leaflets on topics ranging from 'Using Petrol Driven Chainsaws' to 'Mechanical Harvesting'.
Noting that people working in the forestry sector are exposed to several safety and health hazards, including handling of heavy loads, working outdoors in a challenging environment, felling trees using chainsaws and lone working, Minister of State Doyle urged all those working in the forestry sector to take all necessary precautions and to avail of the information and advice provided by the HSA and forestry groups. He concluded by saying "While the development of forestry in Ireland is our objective, the health and safety of everyone involved in, and associated with, the sector is paramount. It is vital that we do all we can to prevent accidents in our workplace, which in this case is the forest and its environs."
The Irish Forestry Safety Guides (IFSG) can be found on www.hsa.ie
Doyle welcomes Budget 2019 Allocation for Forestry, Horticulture, Organics and Greyhound Sectors
The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle T.D., today welcomed the expenditure allocations announced in Budget 2019. Expenditure next year will amount to -
- €103m for the Forestry Programme,
- €6m in capital investment for the commercial horticulture sector,
- €16.8m for Bord na gCon,
- €11m is being provided for the Organic Farming Scheme and a further €1.2m for development of the Organic Sector.
Minister Doyle welcomed the continuation of support for the development of forestry in Ireland with the allocation of €103m (including a capital carryover) for 2019. "This level of investment by the Government recognises the on-going contribution of the forestry sector in Ireland and its importance for both the rural economy and for helping achieve climate change mitigation targets. 2018 has seen a re-orientation in forestry policy, with a higher grant available for broadleaf plantings, as part of the mid-term review of our national Forestry Programme and 2019 will see a further implementation of this."
Minister added; "My Department, along with Teagasc and all relevant stakeholders, will continue to actively promote afforestation. Forestry is a viable land use option and can provide an important alternative income stream for farmers which can complement their overall farm enterprise. In addition we will also be funding other forestry initiatives including the Neighbourwood scheme and the recently launched Woodland Environmental Fund.
Next year's funding will also prioritise measures to encourage and facilitate the mobilisation of the private timber resource. 2018 saw the successful launch of the forestry Knowledge Transfer Scheme and my Department has secured additional funding to continue this Scheme into 2019. Knowledge transfer is a key mechanism to support forest owners in mobilising their timber and realising the return on their investment. Forestry support schemes, such as Forest Roads, which also contribute to this goal, will again receive significant support in 2019."
Minister Doyle announces new Woodland Environmental Fund
Andrew Doyle T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine, today announced a new “Woodland Environmental Fund” to boost the creation of more native woodlands in Ireland. This new initiative provides an opportunity for businesses to partner with the Government and Irish landowners and get behind the national effort to plant an additional 3 million native trees between now and 2020. The Fund is an initiative of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine under its national Forestry Programme 2014 -2020.
Rye River Brewing Company to launch spruce beer this October
The Spruce Saison will be the 4th release in the Rye River Series. It is following Belgian Imperial Stout, Miami J IPA, and our Orange Lager. The Spruce Saison will be hitting shelves in October. For this beer we have liaised with the Irish Timber Growers Association to source a suitable grower and we used a blend of Sitka and Norway spruce tips foraged on Martin Barrett’s woodlands in Athboy.
Martin’s woodlands recently achieved sustainable forest management Certification through the North East Forestry Certification Club and as such proved an excellent source of sustainably managed spruce.
The young budding spruce tips were collected in the midst of spring, hoping to capture the refreshing citrus and young pine aroma and character of the tips. The tips were vacuum packed and frozen and stored away until our brew day which is now fast approaching.
The spruce tips will be used in conjunction with Chinook hops to bring forth a fresh citrus and pine character to work in tandem with our Bastogne yeast. This 7.1% beer promises to be complex yet refreshing. A beer for the turning of the weather; notes which remind of the summer passing and a warmth to protect us from the cold ahead.
Spruce tips have traditionally been used in beers for flavour and bittering dating back to accounts as far back as Captain Cook.
I was interested in brewing with Spruce because of the wonderful aroma’s I recall coming off wet Spruce trees in my neighbourhood as a child growing up. It was the memory of such a refreshing aroma that has inspired the idea of trying to capture these notes and blend them into a Saison style beer. Saison, is a farmhouse beer style which often incorporates local ingredients. I believe the light body, high carbonation and complex yeast character of this style will enhance and lift the character derived from the spruce tips right out of the glass.
I cannot wait to raise a toast in October with Martin and the Irish Timber Growers Association to the efforts which brought this beer forth back in the spring.
Bill Laukitis, Head Brewer,
Rye River Brewing Company
New CAP Proposals post 2020 & Forestry
The European Commission have released its suite of proposals for the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post 2020, reflecting a critical document for the forestry and timber sector in Ireland. It is now important that the industry and sector fully engage on the new CAP Strategic Plan for Ireland as it is being devised and work to ensure it maximises the benefit to the State.
Important points for the forestry & timber sector in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) proposals include:
- CAP specific objectives: 3 out of 9 concern the environment/climate which should favour the sustainable forestry sector.
- Strategic approach: Conditionality and mandatory climate change / environmental element of the CAP schemes which should ensure that forestry forms a significant and vital part of the new CAP measures post 2020.
- Links to non-CAP legislation on environment and climate: CAP plans to take account of targets from EU legislation which again should favour forestry particularly with its role in meeting Climate Change mitigation targets.
- "No backsliding": Legal obligation on Member States to raise ambition on environment and climate compared to the current CAP period.
- Ring-fencing of the CAP targets is proposed:
- Members States to spend at least 30% of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) budget (Pillar II) on interventions directly targeted at environment and climate change.
- - 40% of total CAP spending on both the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) Pillar I plus the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) Pillar II budget to be relevant to climate change (primary & secondary relevance).
Based on the above requirements of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post 2020 proposals, there are very real opportunities for the forestry and timber sector if it engages with the CAP consultative process.
The full suite of proposals for the next CAP can be found at: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/publications/natural-resources-and-environment_en
Good news for forestry in National Development Plan 2018 - 2027
The National Development Plan 2018-2027 has recently been published which sets out the investment priorities that will underpin the implementation of the new National Planning Framework (NPF). This will guide national, regional and local planning and investment decisions in Ireland over the next two decades to cater for an expected population increase of over 1 million people.
Transition to a Low-Carbon and Climate-Resilient Society forms part of the National Planning Framework and as highlighted in strategies such as the National Mitigation Plan and National Adaptation Framework: Planning for a Climate-Resilient Ireland, Ireland's ambition must go further than a focus on achieving compliance with international commitments. It is imperative that a detailed and coherent roadmap is put in place containing an integrated set of actions with the destination of achieving a low-carbon, climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable economy and society.
Agriculture, Forestry and Land Use
While agriculture emissions have fallen 3.5% from 1990 to 2016, the sector accounts for 46% of Ireland's non-ETS emissions, and these are projected to increase by 4% to 5% by 2020 from current levels. The projected increase in period to 2020 is associated with the substantially greater increase in milk production since the end of milk quotas in 2015.
In order to support the achievement of climate action goals, the policy objective is an approach to carbon neutrality for agriculture and land use that does not compromise sustainable food production.
There will be particular emphasis on innovation and early widespread adoption of improved techniques in both primary production and the processing sector and increased afforestation through a new national forestry programme and contribution from the sector to bioenergy production.
Ireland's forests play an essential role in helping with climate change mitigation, through carbon sequestration in forests and the provision of renewable fuels and raw materials. Irish forestry is a major carbon sink and afforestation is one of the most significant mitigation options that is available to Ireland to help meet its international climate targets. Climate change mitigation also occurs when forest-based biomass replaces fossil fuels for heating or power generation. This helps to reduce the dependence on imported fossil fuels.
Taken from Project Ireland 2040 National Development Plan 2018-2027
See National Strategic Outcome 8
New COFORD funded forestry research projects
Integrated pest management for pine weevil in Ireland (PWIPM)
This project will develop an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system for the large pine weevil (Hylobius abietis), a serious forestry pest. It will also develop a novel modelling approach to improve forecasting of pine weevil attack, and of likely impacts of climate change on weevil life cycles. The project will review current and potential management options to mitigate weevil damage in Irish reforestation, identifying strengths and weaknesses of the main options and pinpointing knowledge gaps and future research needs for Ireland. We will also refine methods of forecasting times of onset and peak weevil emergence in Ireland. Forestry plays an important economic, environmental and social role in this country. The project will contribute to the reduction of chemical pesticides and to sustainable forest management, in line with national policies, and will help develop critical mass in IPM in Ireland.
LiDAR Integrated FORecasting (LIFOR)
The methods used to provide estimates of current and projected timber availability from private forests in Ireland have their limitations. The LiFOR project will develop a framework that uses aerial laser scanning to improve productivity estimates, both in terms of forest growth rates and productive forest area. The project aims to develop a new, automated procedure to convert laser-based tree canopy height estimates into the Top Height stand parameter used in Irish forestry for estimating forest productivity. The project will produce a more accurate method for estimating private forest productivity and timber forecasting for a range of species. Remsoft, a forest modelling software package, will be used for forecast evaluations. With the more accurate information, the timber processors can better plan for the utilisation of the increasing private timber supply over the period 2016 - 2035. The project also will build capacity in Ireland in this fast-developing area of remote sensing.
Genomic evaluation for the sustainable Improvement of Sitka spruce (GENESIS)
A new research project aims to increase the productivity and economic value of timber from Irish forests. The GenESIS project coordinated by Dr. Niall Farrelly at Teagasc will collect new and important phenotypes on Sitka spruce, and develop DNA-based assays to interrogate genetic variation in the Irish Sitka spruce tree improvement programme. DNA-based tools will be used for DNA fingerprinting and guiding crossing decisions for the development of the next generation of improved trees. This research also hopes to identify superior trees at an early age that can utilise resources more efficiently, have greater recovery and have increased added value at the forest and processing stage. The research will deliver increased value and competitiveness to the wood processing sector while ensuring the resilience of the forest resource. The project will bring together academic researchers from Teagasc, UCD, Trinity College, NUI-Galway, National Botanic Gardens and Coillte.
Minister Doyle Congratulates Forestry Groups on Achieving FSC Certification
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, Andrew Doyle T.D., congratulated the North East Forestry Certification Club (NEFCC) and the Forest Owners Co-operative Society (FOCS) on achieving Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Group certification, at a function in the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire 30th April last.
Pictured at the presentation were (first row from left to right) Aine Woods, Martin Barrett (NEFCC), Martin Oakes (NEFCC), John Sherlock (NEFCC), Mechteld Schuller (Commercial Forestry Services), Minister of State Andrew Doyle TD, Phil Webb (UKFCG), Paul Sandys (UKFCG), Tim McCarthy (FOCS), John Casey (Teagasc), Patrick Barrett (DAFM), Linda Coghlan (The Forestry Company). (second row from left to right) John Woods (NEFCC), John Roche (The Forestry Company), Hugh McMahon (NEFCC), Gerard Sheridan (NEFCC), Brian White (NEFCC), Donal Whelan (Commercial Forestry Services), Joseph Kilmartin (NEFCC), Andy Grundy (Soil Association Certification), Des Drew (NEFCC), Peter Farrelly (NEFCC), William Melville (FOCS), Michael Greany (FOCS) and Albert Kelly (FOCS)
The Minister of State outlined that 'The lack of certification, and difficulties in gaining it, are obstacles that have to be addressed if we are to get a return, and maximise the return, from our forests'. For more information, see Press Release
Mid Term Review = Higher rates for new forestry planting and more ...
Higher rates and premiums are being introduced by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine for new forestry planting following the completion of the midterm review (MTR) of measures in the current Forestry Programme (2014 -2020). As part of the MTR, forestry planting targets were compared against the outturn for 2015 and 2016 and reasons identified for non-achievement of targets, following which measures were proposed to help address barriers to achieving these targets.
It was noted that the total area of new forests for which payments issued in the years from 2015 to 2017 was some 7% less than the targets set at the beginning of the Programme. Lower than expected planting activity for native woodlands, agroforestry and forestry for fibre during this period indicated that 2018 -2020 afforestation levels may not be achieved within existing structures, while it was also considered that a broadleaf planting target of 30% of overall planting would not be reached.
The MTR included a public call for submissions, consideration of the submissions received, the circulation of resultant draft proposals, consultation meetings with stakeholders and the European Commission and the undertaking of a Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment screening exercise on the draft proposals. The aim of the proposals, which have now been agreed, may be grouped as follows:
To promote greater species and habitat diversity
- Higher grant and premium rates have been introduced to encourage more broadleaf and diverse conifer planting. The minimum mandatory requirement per site has been increased from 10% to 15% broadleaves. Additional support for broadleaf management is also included in the MTR in the form of a second thinning grant.
- Tree guards and deer fencing grants are also being introduced as part of a new "Forest Fencing and Tree Shelter Scheme" to reduce the risk of deer damage for existing broadleaf forests.
- A new continuous cover forestry measure has been included as part of the Woodland Improvement Scheme which will generate more diverse habitats for wildlife by creating forests with a more varied age structure.
- A higher grant rate is being offered to publicly owned native woodlands to initiate the participation of this sector in the native woodland conservation scheme which will enhance biodiversity and generate wider ecosystem services in these forest types.
To support the mobilisation of private timber
- In line with the COFORD Mobilisation Working Group objectives, measures are being introduced to support private forest owners to help manage their forests in a productive and sustainable manner.
- As well as support for forestry groups that may want to amalgamate to create larger groups, funding is being proposed for a national knowledge transfer group (KTG) scheme for forestry (subject to successful completion of the KTG pilot).
- An enhanced forest management plan scheme will also be launched that includes options for pursuing certification.
To encourage farmers to consider forestry as part of the farming mix
- Improved grant and premium rates for agroforestry and forestry for fibre have been included following the MTR which may encourage some farmers to consider forestry as a possible option on their farm alongside other farming activities.
- Additional incentives are also being introduced to further encourage the use of IS436 over non IS436 fencing. While representing better value for money in the longer term this incentive may also make it possible for more farmers to plant trees on a portion of their land.
Some of the key measures being introduced to support private forest owners to help manage their forests in a productive and sustainable manner are as follows:
Forest Road Scheme: Road density to increase from 20m/ha to 25m/ha
Woodland Improvement Scheme (WIS): All broadleaved forests, including mixtures eligible for 2nd thinning grants of €500/ha. 3 payments of €750/ha to support the transition to continuous cover forestry
Native Woodland Conservation: Increase the grant available under the Public High Forest category to that of the Private High Forest. Allow access to forest fencing and tree shelter scheme.
New National Knowledge Transfer Group scheme for forest owners
An important aim of the Department is to foster a "culture" of forestry amongst private forest owners. Knowledge transfer (KT) groups, similar to the beef and sheep KT groups currently in operation in general agriculture, are being developed by the Department as a learning tool to provide forest management knowledge to private forest owners so that they can better manage their forests. A KTG pilot project has just been completed which involved 270 forest owners. The result of the pilot was very positive with the result that a national KTG scheme is in the pipeline for 2018.
New forest certification scheme
Forest certification is a voluntary process used by forestry owners to reassure consumers that the wood and wood products they buy come from sustainably managed forests. Certification independently assesses forest management planning and practices against a sustainable forest management standard. According to the COFORD Wood Mobilisation Group Report (2015) few privately owned forests (estimated to total less than 1,000 hectares) are certified under the FSC or the PEFC label in Ireland.
As the level of supply from the private sector increases, the lack of certification is likely to become a barrier to wood mobilisation. In fact many thousands of hectares of private woodland are approaching the stage of first, and subsequent, thinnings, resulting in a sharp increase in supply of logs from this source in the near future. There is a 30% limit to the volume of uncertified material processors can absorb and the supply of timber from private forests is already close to exceeding this figure. On occasion, it has already been exceeded resulting in instances of private sales being turned away, or at the very least postponed. COFORD's All Ireland Roundwood Production Forecast 2016 -2035 shows that roundwood production from private forests is already at 24% and will reach 30% in terms of net realisable volume in 2021.
Ireland's forest industry is export driven with overseas markets demanding certified timber. In 2010, for example, Ireland became a net exporter of sawn wood and, in 2014, almost €200m of panel board was exported, mostly to the UK and BENELUX countries. As the volume of uncertified timber increases, the more difficult it may become to find export markets for Irish timber products manufactured from uncertified private sources. This could have a very serious impact on Ireland's export orientated forest processing sector. It is critical for Ireland's forest industry and the potential for growth that exists within that sector, that access to these markets is maintained.
The need for certification is therefore becoming an issue for both growers and buyers/processors. The issue for private forest owners in the future may not be the additional income generated from certified timber but rather the ability to sell their timber if it remains uncertified. The Department is therefore seeking to address this uncertainty by putting in place a means of encouraging private forest owners to achieve certification.
The Department accordingly funded a pilot group certification project involving the North East Forestry Group and the Forest Owners Co-operative Society based in Co Cork. The aim of this project was to develop a template and delivery system for FSC certification, and to establish two certification groups, one in the north and one in the south of the country. In order to maintain the momentum generated by this project, which is due to finish in May 2018, the Department is planning to put a new scheme in place in late 2018. This scheme will facilitate forest owners in joining certification groups.
A summary of the main changes to the Afforestation Scheme is as follows, with details of the grants and premiums outlined in the table.
- Increase of 2% in grant for Grant and Premium Categories [GPCs] 1 to 3
- 7% increase in grant and 5% increase in premium for GPCs 4-10
- Agro forestry and forestry for fibre increases
- Increase of 2% in premium for those who plant over 10 hectares
- Increase in fencing cap across all GPC's (from 120m to 140m per hectare)
- Broadleaf component at plantation level to increase from 10% to 15%
- New forest deer fencing and tree shelter scheme
Food from the Forest
Forests can be about so much more than timber alone. While for most woodland owner’s wood and timber products are the main and most important source of income from their forest, this may be changing, and recent developments are motivating owners to look at other sources of revenue.
In recent years, initiatives such as wind farms and phone masts have provided some forest owners with alternative sources of income and there is growing awareness that woodlands can provide a more varied and interesting income stream from a wider range of activities.
Organisations such as the Irish Timber Growers Association have highlighted various initiatives in the past and have visited growers that have undertaken interesting woodland related ventures that add value to their forests and provide their owners with alternative enterprises and additional revenue sources. Many in the sector believe that this is how more people can be introduced to the wider benefits of forestry and woodland ownership and through highlighting the potential for different business opportunities and related woodland ventures it will help retain ongoing activity within the woodlands for farmers and new forest owners.
Field events have showcased such woodland related initiatives looking at different enterprises such as woodland bee keeping, charcoal making, inoculating logs within woodlands with various species of edible mushrooms including Oyster mushrooms & Shiitake, establishing a truffle orchard, fungal forays, introducing wild turkeys and free range pigs to woodlands, field archery, woodland paintball ventures, sites of woodland music festivals, and also the processes involved in wood crafts. Woodland recreation is also becoming increasingly important and has the potential to be further developed.
In relation to these trends in the sector, it is interesting to see the schedule of Irish Timber Growers Association field days this year in visiting woodlands and locations that will continue to highlight and strengthen this theme.
Woodland deer stalking is becoming an increasingly important forest activity, and this will be looked at in addition to visiting the oldest commercial herd of free range pigs in Ireland (makers of Rosscarbery Black Pudding) and looking at how their free-range pigs might forage within woodlands on a controlled basis. The Association will be looking at foliage related alternative forest products during the year and will also be working with the Rye River Brewing Company in the sourcing of Spruce tips for the brewing of Spruce beer. Spruce tips have been used in the brewing process for hundreds of years. In fact, they were one of the main additions in beer before people learned about brewing with hops! The fresh shoots of many spruces are a natural source of vitamin C (which also helps the stability of the finished beer). Captain Cook made spruce beer during his sea voyages to prevent scurvy in his crew. This is certainly an initiative worth watching!
Keep an eye on the Association's events page www.itga.ie/upcoming_events.asp for more information.
Global Sawlog Price Index (GSPI) up in 3rd Quarter 2017
Global sawlog prices were higher throughout the world in the 3rd quarter of 2017 (3Q/17) and are likely to continue upward into 2018 because of strong demand for lumber in key markets, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly.
(Source: www.woodprices.com )
2018 Taxation Update
Forestry and recent Capital Acquisitions Tax clarification
ITGA Committee member and tax consultant, Dermot Byrne, has for some time made the case that the Gift or Inheritance of forestry lands should be eligible for Business Relief.
Business Relief was available for farmland if the beneficiary of the Gift or Inheritance does not qualify for Agricultural Relief, however, while forestry lands attracted Agricultural Relief, they had not previously attracted Business Relief according to the website of the Revenue Commissioners, as ITGA had reported in our Autumn Newsletter.
Dermot made the case to the Revenue Commissioners that extending the Business Relief to forestry lands would help avoid any discrimination against forestry when comparing Agricultural and Forestry Reliefs and would also act to help encourage more afforestation.
ITGA are very happy to inform its members that Dermot’s work in this regard has borne fruit and it has been confirmed by the Revenue Commissioners in a recent eBrief that forestry now attracts Business Relief.
The Association would like to thank Dermot Byrne for all his work on this regard.
Launch ITGA 2018 Forestry & Timber Yearbook
The 2018 ITGA Forestry and Timber Yearbook was launched recently by Andrew Doyle TD, Minister of State for Forestry at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. At the launch the ITGA Chairman, Brendan Lacey, outlined the growing number of national agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that are now highlighting the benefits and importance of woodlands and the ITGA Yearbook is a vital publication to reflect the sectors importance economically, socially and environmentally. Brendan Lacey thanked Coillte and Forest Service, the main Yearbook sponsors, and the various companies, organisations and individuals who support its publication. The Yearbook contains 208 pages of valuable information. The mainstay of the publication is the industry statistics and directory. The Yearbook directory appears on three websites www.itga.ie , www.forestry.ie and www.forestryyearbook.ie
Pictured at the Launch of the 2018 ITGA Forestry & Timber Yearbook were (from left to right) Donal Whelan (ITGA), Andrew Doyle TD, Minister of State for Forestry DAFM, Pat Neville (Coillte - sponsor of 2018 Forestry Yearbook) and Brendan Lacey (Chairman Irish Timber Growers Association)
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.
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."
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.
€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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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/
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
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/).
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 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.
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
- €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.
For more information on the New Forestry Programme, see Department website:
- Forestry Programme 2014 – 2020: IRELAND (28/11/2014)
- New Forestry Programme 2014 – 2020 (Highlights) (Nov 2014)
- Stakeholder Submissions on Forestry Programme 2014-2020
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.
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.
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
'World lost 18m hectares of forest in 2013'
'Drone trials for Kiwi forestry management'
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)
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.
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.
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.
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