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Irish Farmers Are Turning Their Attention to Forestry

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Issue date: 
November 09, 2011
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A growing number of farmers in the Republic of Ireland are considering converting their farmland into a forest area, claims UK-based information portal (http://www.timberinvestments.co/). As the popularity of forestry and timber investments is spreading to the Emerald Isle, Irish farmers are looking into options to increase their income through growing trees.

Recently, the Irish newspaper The Corkman wrote about the increased number of enquiries from Irish farmers regarding all aspects of forestry. Timberinvestments.co, an investment portal, operated by green investments media Dezz, analyses the motives behind the growing popularity of forestry among Irish farmers.

The long-term benefits of forestry and timber investments are undisputed. The prospect of constantly increasing global demand for wood products, low risks and high returns are attracting investors all over the world. However, timberinvestments.co’s article concentrates on the specifics of the forestry sector in Ireland, and especially in terms of the favourable environmental conditions that make investing in forestry there a particularly lucrative enterprise.

Furthermore, timberinvestments.co provides information about the Irish Government’s afforestation targets, and namely with regards to achieving the ambitious goal of 1,000,000 ha of forest area by 2030. In addition, planting trees is also related to the county’s efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. According to COFORD, a representative body of the forestry sector, appointed by the Minister of State for Forestry, even though pre-1990 forests also contribute to climate change mitigation, they are not a part of Ireland’s forest carbon accounting regime, with additionality a key criteria. This further enhances the need for planting new forests for the purposes of carbon sequestration.

The main instrument for promoting afforestation in the Republic of Ireland is the government grant and premium scheme, which timberinvestments.co describes in detail. The scheme provides annual payments for turning land into forest and is particularly attractive for farmers as they can potentially receive the premium for up to 20 years, whereas eligible non-farmers will receive the premium for a period of 15 years.

Timberinvestments.co also comments on the possibility that the growing popularity of forestry and timber investments among Irish farmers is partly related to the recently proposed measures by the European Commission for reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The new rules impose “greening” practices by linking them to 30% of the direct payments, which farmers across the EU are used to receiving. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that the Commission’s proposals were not warmly welcomed by farmers, and some of the strongest objections came from Irish farmers. If approved by the European Parliament and the Council, the new rules will apply from January 2014. Since the measures are likely to reduce the amount of payments to farmers, unless they fulfil the new conditions, farmers have started looking into new income possibilities.

Another factor for the increased interest toward forestry and timber investments in the Republic of Ireland is the state of the timber market in the country. As the Government is striving to meet its targets for renewable energy by 2020, the market of wood fuels is forecast to experience an upsurge.

Despite the positive conditions for Irish farmers who are considering turning to forestry, a lot depends on the new State Budget for 2012, which might not maintain the afforestation grant and premium scheme in its present form. If the rumoured significant cuts in funding turn out to be the case, they will surely discourage Irish farmers who have not already tied themselves in to the present grant system, from making a commitment to forestry.
To read the full article, visit http://www.timberinvestments.co/.


Extpub | by Dr. Radut