A major challenge for the forestry and forest products sector will be the mobilisation of timber, most of which will need to be exported. Independence in the supply chain between the grower and the timber processing industry, with expertise in timber harvesting and marketing is essential in maximising the Irish forestry resource.
Euroforest provides this independence in the UK and currently harvests in excess of two million cubic metres of timber annually, by far the largest company of its kind in these islands. Forwood Forestry which provides a similar role in Ireland has now joined forces with Euroforest to form Euroforest Ireland Limited. The new company has opened its Irish headquarters in Arklow, Co. Wicklow.
"Our goal is to replicate the Euroforest business model in Ireland which has proven successful in the UK, benefiting forest owners and allowing the forest industry to expand,” said David Symons, chairman. The team will be led in Ireland by Jim Hurley who has been appointed Managing Director.
"Jim has over 35 years’ experience in the forest products industry principally in the harvesting and marketing field where he is highly respected," he said. "His views on the potential of the private forest sector are well known to the wide range of stakeholders who have dealt with him in timber processing, harvesting, marketing and in his earlier career as a state forester and technical member of the Society of Irish Foresters."
He said Euroforest Ireland is determined to ensure delivery of a harvesting and marketing service to ensure maximum financial returns from thinning and final harvest to forest owners, now mainly farmers. "Using bespoke IT systems developed over the last 10 years Euroforest Ireland, will be equipped to demonstrate full transparency to its suppliers ensuring long-term confidence in our ability to provide a high quality service.”
The company is currently recruiting both professional forestry staff to service and expand its nationwide client base and administration staff to the head office at Arklow, Co. Wicklow.
Minister Andrew Doyle has welcomed the development as follows (“Since my appointment as Minister with responsibility for Forestry I have been keen to highlight all aspects of forestry production, from planting to management of the growing plantation, to thinning and clearfelling. Mobilisation of timber at the right time can have an enormous impact on output. Timber output is predicted to double by 2035 and with 50% of total output to come from private owners, so it is vital that forest owners are fully aware of the potential value of their asset. To that end companies like Euroforest, who offer a range of management and marketing expertise will become important stakeholders in this important indigenous sector. As a company who will be based in Co. Wicklow I wish them well in the future”. .)
Over the last 25 years the Irish Government has invested some €3 Billion in the establishment of a forest resource. The new forests were established with the support of the farming community bringing diversity to the landscape, support for the low carbon economy and of course a valuable timber supply which will be used to generate future economic benefit for the people of Ireland. The new forests and woodlands are now ready to begin production and indeed thinning work is already under way.
A recent report concluded that the volumes of timber from privately owned forests located throughout rural Ireland, available for harvesting are set to increase from 650,000 tonnes currently to 2.8 million tonnes by 2026 and 7.9 million tonnes by 2035.This will result in new, good quality employment opportunities in the forest industry, which is largely a rural based enterprise. It is against this background that the forestry harvester and forwarder simulator training programme launched by Minister Doyle in Ballyhaise Agricultural College is of significance to anyone considering a career in the forest harvesting industry.
There are challenges, the same challenges experienced by private forest owners and the forest management and forest products industry in the UK over the past 25 years. The need to co-ordinate forest management and profitable timber mobilisation into volume aggregation from numerous small forests to bring scale to enable the development of the forests products industry is the most significant challenge.
Company No. 587317 Ireland Registered Office: Unit 3, Cillin Hill Centre, Dublin Road, Kilkenny