Major import of timber needed after fires in west and midlands
NEARLY ONE million cubic metres of timber will have to be imported because of the damage to some 1,500 hectares of forestry in the recent fires in the west and midlands.
The Irish Forestry and Forest Products Association has called for the prosecution of those responsible for setting the fires.
Its director, Marian Byron, said every hectare of forestry destroyed in the fires would result in up to 650cu m of timber having to be imported. This would result in the loss of many local forestry, harvesting and haulage jobs. The damage caused was the equivalent of four months’ production in Ireland’s wood-processing factories.
She said despite the efforts of those who had fought so hard to save the forests, fires continued to be deliberately lit illegally throughout the weekend when the damage occurred.
She said the scale of the damage would hit the economy hard.
“Many of Ireland’s sawmills and processors have opened up important export markets for their product. These facilities need security of supply of renewable timber. Events such as we’ve seen are putting jobs throughout the Irish forestry and forest products sector at risk.”
She said 16,600 jobs in Ireland relied upon the forestry sector. The fires had also destroyed important habitats and valuable peatland, some permanently.