Industry Updates

Industry Update - May 2020



National Biodiversity Action Plan 2017 - 2021

Interim Review 2020

In Ireland, 85% of EU protected habitats are reported as being in unfavourable status with 46% demonstrating ongoing declines. The main drivers of this decline are agricultural practices which are negatively impacting over 70% of habitats, particularly ecologically unsuitable grazing, abandonment and pollution. Of particular note are declines in peatlands and grasslands, and some of the marine habitats.

There is decline of 14% reported for bee species. There has been a 2.6% decline in the number of surface waters assessed as being in satisfactory ecological health. Short term assessments also undertaken for breeding and a selection of wintering bird populations reported declines of 18% and 52% respectively. Ireland's 3rd National Biodiversity Action Plan 2017-2021 is an over-arching Government policy that is comprised of a suite of Objectives, Targets and Actions that aim to achieve Ireland's Vision for Biodiversity that "biodiversity and ecosystems in Ireland are conserved and restored, delivering benefits essential for all sectors of society and that Ireland contributes to efforts to halt the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems in the EU and globally". Many positive actions for Biodiversity have been taken since 2017. There has been considerable increase in awareness of, engagement in and collaboration on biodiversity issues. Clearly, much more needs to be done to reverse the trends in biodiversity loss. Ireland needs to avail of all relevant national and EU funding streams critical for biodiversity conservation and ensure that we are maximising the full range of potential financing mechanisms (e.g. payments for ecosystem services, biodiversity offsets, restoration of carbon sinks, fiscal transfers, etc.), together with improved targeting of existing measures for biodiversity. Accessing funds through the next CAP and European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) will be critical to biodiversity conservation. A transformational approach is also required to ensure our consumption patterns are truly sustainable and to safeguard biodiversity on this island.

Some areas within the current Plan that were highlighted in the report as needing more emphasis include, amongst others:

  • New farming models to aid the diversification of agriculture and appropriate reduction in intensification in some areas
  • The development of a National Green Infrastructure Strategy to include agricultural landscapes
  • Management Plans for protected habitats and species
  • Restoration plans for species in severe decline
  • Restructuring of legacy non-productive, badly-sited conifer plantations; especially on peatlands
  • Further expansion of native woodland to ensure functioning natural woodland across the landscape
  • The establishment of new frameworks for private sector investment and innovation
  • The integration of natural capital accounts into decision making
  • Invertebrate monitoring
  • An Invasive Species Strategy
  • Additional expertise across government to facilitate collaboration.

The above outline was taken from the Biodiversity Working Group (2020) Interim Review of the Implementation of the National Biodiversity Action Plan 2017 -2021.

For the full Report see Interim Review of the Implementation of the National Biodiversity Action Plan 2017 -2021



Seeing the wood in the forests

A timely new report *) from the European Forest Institute assesses how much wood we are likely to have now and in the future to support a transformational change, and explores the vast potential and implications for its uses.

We need to accelerate the transition from the existing global fossil and wasteful economy towards a renewable economy: a circular bioeconomy. If we are serious about mitigating climate change, we must find new ways to replace fossil and non-renewable raw materials, energy and products like concrete, steel, plastics or synthetic textiles with sustainable, renewable materials.

Wood is, in fact, the most versatile renewable material on earth and, from a sustainability and circular economy perspective, has a comparative advantage relative to other materials. Furthermore, forests, sustainable forest management and forest-based solutions can advance the bioeconomy while enhancing biodiversity and supporting wealth creation in rural and urban areas.

The European Forest Institute report considers the structural changes affecting the use of wood globally and the potential for innovation in forest-based product markets, from engineered wood products in the construction sector, pulp used for textiles, chemicals, bioplastics and energy, to the growing number of small niche markets, including cosmetics, food additives and pharmaceuticals. It explores the future demand for roundwood under business-as-usual scenarios and when contemplating trends which curb the use of wood while foreseeing increased demand for other forest bioproducts. Finally, it describes the need for investment in research to synthesise current knowledge and assess future environmental, economic, social and policy prospects, which will support a truly sustainable development of the circular bioeconomy.

Seeing the wood in the forests is published by the European Forest Institute in its new Knowledge to Action series, which aims to bring a wide range of research, projects and initiatives on forest-related issues closer to society. See Seeing the wood in the forests

*) Hetemäki, L., Palahí, M. and Nasi, R. 2020. Seeing the wood in the forests. Knowledge to Action 1, European Forest Institute.


Industry Update - April 2020



Tick Advice when walking in Woodland Areas

You'll have heard the old proverb, 'Ne'er cast a clout till May be out', and while referring to the weather at this time of year, it might equally apply to covering up in the later Spring and Summer/Autumn to help prevent tick bites when walking in the great outdoors, including woodland areas.

As more people are taking to walking in the great outdoors and woodland areas in our current circumstances, it is important to be aware and to prevent tick bites. In recent years, the medical profession and the public are becoming more aware of the risk of Lyme disease, (also known as Lyme borelliosis) which is an infection bacterium that is transmitted by a bite from a tick. Where ticks feed on infected animals such as deer, sheep, goats, cattle, they can pass on the infection to people and domestic animals. Unlike humans and domestic animals, infected wild animals do not seem to show symptoms of Lyme disease.

It is important to be aware, if one is bitten by a tick, the longer the tick has been attached to the skin, the greater the risk of it passing on infection. It appears that ticks need to be attached and to have been feeding for hours for a person to be at risk of an infection. Where a tick is removed as soon as it bites or soon after, then the risk of infection is minimal.

While Lyme disease can be very debilitating, if it is diagnosed in its early stages, it can be treated with antibiotics, and the outlook for the condition is then good. Most people will make a full recovery within a couple of days. Prevention and early detection are therefore critical.

The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to take sensible precautions when you are in areas that are known to have a high tick population, such as tucking your trousers into your socks, wearing gaiters, wearing long-sleeved shirts, and using insect repellent and if at all possibly stick to paths.

Some general points to remember about ticks:

  • Ticks that may cause Lyme disease can be found in many parts of Ireland.
  • High-risk areas include grassy and low vegetation and wooded areas.
  • To reduce the risk of being bitten, cover your skin as much as possible, tuck your trousers into your socks, use insect repellent and stick to paths.
  • If you are bitten, remove the tick with fine-tipped tweezers or a tick-removal tool.
  • Clean the bite with antiseptic or soap and water.
  • While the risk of getting ill is generally low, as it is thought that only a small number of ticks are infected with the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, remember the preventative measures when you are out hiking.
  • Where you've been bitten by a tick and you get flu-like symptoms or a circular red rash, you should visit your Doctor.

Useful websites to look up:


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.

For more information contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Industry Update - February-March 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:

  • afforestation/reforestation;
  • 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):

Industry Update - January 2020




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

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


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:

Industry Updates - 2019



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:

  1. Forests, products and people - Ireland's Forest Policy - A Report on Policy Implementation with Recommendations
  2. Forest Land Availability Implementation Group Report
  3. Wood Supply and Demand on the Island of Ireland to 2025 Report
  4. Mobilising Irelands Forest Resource - Meeting the Challenges
  5. Longer Term Forest Research Report
  6. 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

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