The Irish forestry sector annually contributes €2.3 billion ($2.5 billion) to the country’s gross domestic product, and supports approximately 12,000 jobs, mainly in rural locations, according to the Irish Forestry and Forest Products Association. Annual production of wood from Irish forests is estimated at 2.95 million cubic meters, with Coillte, the semi-state forestry organization, producing 2.43 million cubic meters, and the balance coming from the emerging private sector forestry resource, and a small amount of imports. This annual production volume can be categorized into large saw log (1.81 million cubic meters), fencing (0.15 million cubic meters) and small-diameter pulpwood (0.99 million cubic meters).
The markets for these products are the construction sector, packaging, fencing, wood-based panel board production, and most recently, the emerging biomass energy market. Today, supply and demand are largely in equilibrium, but it is expected that as the requirement for biomass energy increases, a new market dynamic will be created. Demand for biomass for cofiring, biomass power generation and both industrial heat and combined heat and power (CHP) are all expected to increase. This demand will be met by local sawmill residues, pulpwood from our forest estate, and potentially, biomass imports.