Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
467. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the actions he has taken to address the issues raised in the report Wood Supply and Demand on the Island of Ireland to 2025; the number of recommendations actioned arising from the report titled Forests, Products and People - Ireland's Forest Policy - A Renewed Vision; the number of recommendations that have not been actioned; the amount invested in the sector in each of the years 2014 to date; if the certification of private forests has resulted in a full take-up; if certification has been made more viable for the owners of small forests; the level of grant aid available for private forest owners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9592/19]
The COFORD report, Wood Supply and Demand on the Island of Ireland to 2025, was published in December 2018 and is under active consideration by my Department. The conclusions of the report state that there will be a supply deficit in sawlogs in 2020 but that this will be rectified by 2025. The supply of material for the panel board manufacturing sector will be met from indigenous supply. However, there will be a significant deficit in the supply of wood products for the wood energy sector by 2025. Measures to address this issue are already in place, with the Forest Roads scheme to mobilise greater volumes of timber and the Forestry for Fibre scheme, to meet the needs of the energy sector. However, barriers to these schemes have to be addressed and our objective is to ensure a balanced approach to the development of the island’s wood resource to best meet the needs of both the wood processing and energy sectors.
“Forests, products and people, Ireland’s forest policy – a renewed vision” was published in July 2014 following a comprehensive review of forestry policy in Ireland. This document listed strategic actions and priorities for the future development of the forestry Sector in Ireland and the objectives contained in the review strongly influenced the design and content of the Forestry Programme 2014-2020. This is an ambitious action plan for forestry covering 11 different measures and has a budget allocation of €482m for the duration of the programme. All 11 measures have been implemented.
Following the completion of the mid-term review of the Forestry Programme in February 2018, premiums and grants for the planting of native broadleaves and in particular for the Forestry for Fibre scheme to supply timber for the energy sector were increased. My Department also introduced, among other things, additional funding for building forest roads to encourage greater mobilisation of timber and a National Forestry Knowledge Transfer Scheme for private forestry owners to develop forestry management skills.
Other measures to promote the mobilisation of timber are also in place as follows:
- the new All Ireland Roundwood Production Forecast 2016-2035 and the associated GIS Portal,
- enhanced efficiencies in dealing with felling licence applications,
- roundwood price information being provided to the public domain,
- an excellent programme of advice on woodland management and wood sales from Teagasc aimed at all private growers.
The total expenditure for developing and promoting the forestry sector since 2014 is contained in the following table. The current programme was introduced in January 2015:
My Department funded a pilot Forestry Certification project to address the barriers to forest certification for private forest owners, which include the cost and complexity of achieving this accreditation. This project funded the establishment of two certification groups and the development of a template to assist foresters in helping their clients achieve certification. The key contributors to the project were the two participating forestry groups, the North East Forestry Group and the Forest Owners Co-operative Society. The pilot project was completed successfully in 2018. The next challenge in forest certification is for the number of private owners to grow and this is matter for all stakeholders including representative groups, producers and the processing sector. Certification is primarily a market requirement and it is therefore a matter for those engaged with the market to design and implement the solutions which best meet their needs. It should be noted that the entire Coillte estate of 439,000 hectares is certified by the FSC and PEFC certification bodies.
The level of aid available to private forest owners under the current Forestry Programme, both establishment grants and 15 year premiums, is shown by Grant and Premium Category (GPC) in the following table:
|GPC||Total Grant Available€/ha||Annual Premium Rate<10ha||Annual Premium Rate>10ha|
|GPC 1 – Unenclosed||€2,740||€185||€190|
|GPC 2 - Sitka spruce/Lodgepole pine||€3,705||€440||€450|
|GPC 3 – 10% Diverse Conifer e.g. Sitka spruce and 10% broadleaves||€3,815||€510||€520|
|GPC 4 – Diverse Conifer e.g., Scots pine, Douglas Fir||€4,310||€590||€600|
|GPC 5 – Broadleaf e.g. sycamore||€5,880||€605||€620|
|GPC 6 – Oak||€6,220||€645||€660|
|GPC 7 – Beech||€6,220||€645||€660|
|GPC 8 – Alder and Birch||€4,195||€605||€620|
|GPC 9- Native Woodland Establishment (oak-birch-holly-hazel)||€6,220||€665||€680|
|GPC 10- Native Woodland Establishment (alder-oak woodland)||€5,880||€665||€680|
|GPC 11 - Agro-forestry||€6,220||€645||€660|
|GPC 12 – Forestry-for-Fibre||€3,815||€510||€520|
Considerable progress has already been made in tackling the challenge of timber mobilisation since the introduction of the current programme and my Department will continue to engage with all stakeholders to ensure a greater supply of timber to meet industry demands.