Forest Industries Ireland (FII) has revealed that the value of timber, primarily from Sitka spruce, is estimated to exceed €2 billion over the next 12 years. This analysis was conducted by Ibec, the forestry and timber trade association, and focuses on the value of timber from private forests across Ireland until 2035. According to the Roundwood Production Forecast, private growers are expected to bring over 40 million cubic metres of sawlog to the market during this period. At current prices, this volume of timber is worth more than €2 billion, excluding inflation. FII highlights that conifers, particularly Sitka spruce, are crucial for the production of softwood timber products used in construction, as well as sectors such as pallets, fencing, packaging, and bioenergy.
The most recent data from the National Forest Inventory indicates that Ireland’s forests will produce enough timber to meet the needs of 1.4 million homes by 2040. Commenting on the analysis, Mark McAuley, the director of Forest Industries Ireland, emphasizes the economic value of the Irish forestry model, which is based on the production of softwood from Sitka spruce. He states that those who have invested in planting Sitka spruce over the past three decades have created a significant financial asset that will generate over €2 billion in cash flows for growers over the next twelve years. McAuley also highlights Ireland’s favorable conditions for growing conifers, with Sitka spruce growing three times faster here than in Scandinavia. He advises farmers to maximize the financial return from their land holdings by planting conifers and generating a valuable cash crop.
McAuley points out that there is a strong demand for timber in the market, with prices expected to steadily increase over the next decade. He believes that Ireland should aim to construct more homes using native-grown timber frames while further developing the export market. McAuley states, “We are producing enough high-quality timber to build hundreds of thousands of green, home-grown homes.” He adds that the production of softwood is one of the financially attractive options for Irish agriculture to diversify land use and meet climate change targets, while also delivering strong financial returns to farmers. McAuley highlights the availability of government grants and a promising future market for timber as incentives for farmers and investors to consider planting conifers as a viable financial and environmental option.
In conclusion, Forest Industries Ireland’s analysis reveals the significant economic value of timber, particularly from Sitka spruce, in Ireland. The forecasted volume of timber to be harvested over the next 12 years is estimated to be worth over €2 billion. This presents an opportunity for farmers and investors to generate substantial cash flows by planting conifers and meeting the growing demand for timber in various sectors. Additionally, the production of softwood offers a financially attractive option for Irish agriculture to diversify land use, contribute to climate change targets, and build more sustainable homes. With government grants and a promising future market, the planting of conifers is a compelling choice for both financial and environmental reasons.