Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Sale of Coillte's Harvesting Rights: Discussion with Society of Irish Foresters

4:30 pm

Photo of Éamon Ó CuívÉamon Ó Cuív (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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The discussion at the end, which goes way beyond the sale of the crop, is very important. There are many complexities in the forestry industry. I understand one of the main sources of need, aside from the residue issue from the timber mills, is that there is a lot of pine that is not suitable for saw milling. It was used as a first crop on bogs because the Sitka spruce would not grow on the bog. When talking about pulp meal, it is a uniform product and pulp wood or clean chips are needed. It is slightly different from a company buying a standing crop of timber. There might be a guaranteed supply but the price depends on the quality, size and maturity of the timber. Until someone sees the standing crop and its location, it is impossible to say what he or she will pay for it. As long as there is an understanding that a certain amount of timber will be put on the market nationally to keep the mills going, it is not possible to go any further in terms of long-term contracts for the mills because there is such a variation. For a board mill, there is a slight difference. We should not forget the board mills depend hugely on the sawmills but the sawmills depend hugely on the board mills being there because if the board mills closed tomorrow, of any log that goes in, only 50% comes out in square timber. The rest either comes out in bark timber or chips. When all of this is over, and please God the Government will quietly drop the plan in the next few weeks-----