July 8, 2016
More Forests More Rural Jobs
COFORD – the Programme of Competitive Forestry Research for Development (formerly National Council for Forest Research and Development) was established in 1993 and is based in the Research Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. It is responsible for the development of national forest research and development policy.
Forests absorb and store carbon in a process known as carbon sequestration. COFORD has estimated that new forestry plantations established in 1990 sequestered 2.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year to the end of 2012 thus saving the Irish government and taxpayers in excess of €640 million each year which would otherwise have been levied on Ireland as fines for exceeding carbon emissions from 2020 onwards. Forestry is one of our best options to counter-balance our carbon emissions, an even more pressing need since the Paris climate change summit of December, 2015. The other option is to reduce economic activity which is not in the national interest.
Forestry and the timber industry are worth €2.29 billion per year to the Irish economy, according to the Irish Forestry and Forestry Product Association (IFFPA). IFFPA says the sector employs over 12,000 people, mostly in timber processing in rural Ireland.
The Department of Agriculture Food and Marine (DAFM) statistics at the end of 2014 showed almost 21,000 private forestry owners in Ireland the vast majority of whom are farmers. When spouses and family members are taken into consideration, this figure could be well over 60,000 people who depend or partially depend on growing forests for an income or as income supplement.
“Increasing the level of forest cover in Ireland from 10.8% compared to an EU average of 38% will not solve all our economic worries but it forms an integral element in helping to overcome our carbon emission issues from other industries, improves our natural environment and provides raw material for further downstream economic activities” according to Daragh Little, Veon’s Managing Director – Forestry.
A study in 2014 by University College Dublin estimated that an annual afforestation programme of 15,000 hectares would create 490 jobs, mostly rural, in forest establishment, forest management, timber harvesting, road haulage, and timber processing. For every 100 of these jobs, an extra 70 full-time equivalent jobs would be generated elsewhere. Of crucial importance is the fact that these are long-term jobs and located in rural Ireland.