Andrew Doyle, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, today announced the publication of the Department’s 2017 forest statistics report.
Welcoming the report, which is now available on the Department’s website, the Minister of State commented that “Forest Statistics – Ireland 2017 is an annual compilation of statistics on the forest estate and the forest industry in Ireland. It is prepared by my Department and is the reference document for forestry statistics in Ireland. Its thoroughness and ease of access mean that it is the definitive compendium of up to date information on forestry.”
Minister of State Doyle also commented that “Information is essential for any business or industry and forestry is no different. Such information is invaluable to monitor progress and to assist in policy and decision making. It is also interesting and reassuring to note, for example, forest cover is estimated to be at its highest level in over 350 years and that over one quarter of our forest estate contains broadleaves”
The publication provides statistics about afforestation trends, nationally and on a county by county basis up until the end of 2016. It tracks forest road building, thinning and clearfelling activity as well as a range of other forest management operations. Trends in Roundwood prices also feature in the document as does information in relation to forest fire and pest damage.
Some of the key data outlined in ‘Forest Statistics – Ireland 2017’ report include:
- The area of forest is estimated to be 731,650 ha or 10.5% of the total land area of Ireland (NFI 2012).
- Forest cover is estimated to be at its highest level in over 350 years.
- Over one quarter of the forest estate contains broadleaves.
- Farmers accounted for 83% of private lands afforested between 1980 and 2016.
- In 2016, €103.8 million was spent on forest activities including afforestation grants, maintenance grants, annual premium payments and grants for forest roading infrastructure.
- The average size of private grant-aided afforestation since 1980 is 8.8 ha.
- Since 1980, nearly 21,994 private forest owners have received grant aid to establish forests.
- A substantial area of private grant-aided forests changes ownership each year with most ownership change within families from one generation to the next.
- The total roundwood harvest in 2016 (including firewood) was 3.36 million cubic metres, the highest level since records began.
- In 2016, 34% of the roundwood harvested in the Republic of Ireland was used for energy generation, mainly within the forest products sector. The usage of forest based biomass for the energy sector abated 0.76 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2016, up almost 22% on the 2015 level.
- The national forest estate is an important carbon reservoir, amounting to 381 million tonnes of carbon in 2012; an increase from 348 million tonnes in 2006.
- Forests also provide a source of renewable raw materials for fuel and wood products which help mitigate rises in greenhouse gases. Usage of wood fuels is increasing due to renewable energy polices and as young plantations enter the production stage.
The Minister of State added that the Department will be publishing, in the coming months, results from the third cycle of the National Forest Inventory (NFI) which is completed every five years. The third NFI will facilitate the on-going monitoring of the national forest estate, including the assessment of change over time. In particular the evaluation of volume increment and harvesting volume will facilitate the monitoring of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM).