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)