Forestry investors in Galway reap rich rewards

Galway forestry owners, timber contractors and hauliers will over €500 million per annum by 2035, according to a new timber trade association launched this week.

With 950 people working in the timber and forestry industry in Galway, this projection will be music to the ears of some 1,460 forestry owners in County Galway.

Forest Industries Ireland (FII), a new branch of IBEC, was launched on Monday last, representing almost all major forestry companies across the country, with representatives drawn from across the industry to include the largest timber processors as well as companies involved in the establishment and management of forests.

Inaugural Chairman of the Organisation, Brian Murphy, said the industry had a major role to play in Ireland’s rural economy – even more so in the next 20 years where it is expected to double in size.

“Forest Industries Ireland is placing timber and forestry at the heart of Ireland’s rural economy. With a combined turnover of over €800 million, the industry is a major player in the rural and national economies.

“The industry is enjoying a period of major capital investment, market buoyancy and substantial growth in wood supply. These three elements underpin growth for the industry that will see it double in size in the next two decades,” said Mr Murphy.

Across the country, the 21,000 forest owners who supply raw timber product, as well as contractors and hauliers that harvest and transport it to sawmills, are forecasted to be generating an estimated €6.4 billion per annum by 2035 – with €537 million of this being made by Galway companies.

The “game changer” for the industry is the fact that timber output from Irish forests’ output will double by 2035. According to FII, Ireland’s climate makes for fast growth, giving it a major competitive edge over other timber producing nations.

“FII and its member companies are committed to engendering the highest standards in the industry,” said Mr Murphy.

“Competitiveness, climate action and sustainability go hand in hand and underpin long-term growth and prosperity across this dynamic industry.

“We are proud to be delivering quality jobs, especially to our rural communities, and making a major contribution to the Irish economy, our society and the environment,” he added.

Mr Murphy said forests were of huge importance in the fight against climate change and called for government support for the industry.

“As well as driving economic activity and employment, our forests absorb 3.6 million tonnes of CO2 per year, the equivalent of the annual CO2 emissions of 80 per cent of cars on Irish roads. Forests and wood products are vital tool in our efforts to combat climate change.

“The Government should support our sector by continuing to invest in the national Forestry Programme and ensure that timber can be delivered to our sawmills,” he said.

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Andrew Doyle, said he was pleased to see the industry organising for what will be a period of sustained growth.

“I welcome the launch of Forestry Industries Ireland. It demonstrates the industry is organising itself for the growth period ahead.

“I look forward to working closely with the companies as we strive to further Ireland’s forestry policy and continue to build a major industry for the country and especially our rural economy,” said Minister Doyle.