October 1, 2013
Significant interest in Farm Forestry at 2013 NPC
Ireland’s leading forestry company Forest Enterprises Ltd. (FEL), reported an increase of 79% in the number of enquiries generated at the 2013 National Ploughing Championship. Farmers and land owners were particularly interested in planting their land, while forest owners were interested in thinning their plantations.
Commenting on the increase, Daragh Little, Chairman of IFFPA (Irish Forestry and Forest Products Association) and MD of FEL said, “The interest in planting had increased 100% on 2012, while those interested in harvesting their forests had increased by 300%”. The increase is a result of the excellent location of the 2013 championship and mild weather attracting crowds in excess of 220,000 over the three days and also the attractiveness of forestry as a farm enterprise.
Forestry is a growth industry in Ireland, contributing to 2.2 billion to the Irish Economy in 2011. With demand for timber outstripping supply, timber prices are high and will remain so as the European economy recovers. According to Daragh, “Many highly productive forests are nearing the end of their forest premiums and forest owners are looking to generate income as soon as they can. The National Ploughing Championship was an excellent venue to discuss forestry as a viable farm enterprise can increase farm income”.
The level of awareness about thinning has grown significantly amongst forest owners. This is due to growth in the timber market, timber prices and increase in education through the media, Teagasc events and FEL’s harvesting field days. Education is a key focus of FEL because educated forest owners make better decisions. Until recently, many forest owners were unaware of the benefits of thinning and the steps involved and reluctant to take the next step. They had heard horror stories about plantations being destroyed for short term gain. This has caused many to do nothing and they are losing out financially. It has been shown that forest owners who educate themselves and engage a professional forester earn more in the long term than those who try to do it themselves.