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Wallace welcomes increase in timber prices

Ms. Mary Wallace T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food with responsibility for Forestry today informed farmers that the price of timber had increased by some 20% to 25% in the last 18 months and as demand rises for this renewable product, so must the returns to the producers. The Minister made her remarks during a visit to the two Coillte panel board factories, Smartply in Co. Kilkenny and Medite in Co. Tipperary.

In the course of her visits to the plants, Minister of State Wallace said, "As Minister with responsibility for forestry, I welcome this opportunity to see at first hand part the highly important downstream processing sector of the forest industry. In encouraging farmers and landowners to plant, it is important that they are fully aware of the markets available for their crops. While the emphasis on sources of renewable energy generally is creating a major market for wood, it is equally important that farmers are fully aware of the existing and ever increasing need of wood products in particular thinnings for the wood processing industry in Ireland. This market comes in to its own for farmers when thinnings can be first taken after the fifteenth year following planting".

During her visit to the plants, now both owned and managed by Coillte, the Minister of State observed that since the early eighties in the case of Medite and since 1996 in the case of Smartply both had been adding significant value and securing valuable export markets for our processed native grown wood in which we have a natural international comparative advantage.

Minister of State Wallace again stressed the opportunity that forest planting represented to farmers. She said "not only is there aid of up to 100% available for establishment of forests, but also a comprehensive range of schemes, such as the Forest Roads Scheme and woodland improvement schemes, to assist the forestry owner to maximise the return from his/her crop as well as existing and developing markets for timber".

The Minister of State noted the excellent financial performances of the two Coillte plants this year and commented that, "Recent research has indicated that forestry and the wood products sector contribute in excess of €1.65 billion annually to the Irish economy. While this is a considerable contribution in itself, the other benefits of forestry including recreation, carbon sequestration and energy are non timber-benefits that are of major additional value".

7 December, 2007

Note to Editors

SmartPly Europe, a wholly owned subsidiary of Coillte, has been manufacturing Oriented Strand Board (OSB) at Belview, Co Kilkenny since 1996. It employs 170 people directly, processes over 500,000 tonnes of thinnings from Irish forests and exports product through Irish ports to markets throughout Europe and further afield. The SmartPly range of engineered wood products are used extensively in all types of construction.

Minister of State Wallace also visited Medite Europe, part of the Coillte group since November 2006. Medite manufactures Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) at its plant in Clonmel. The milling plant in Clonmel uses some 650,000 tonnes of wood per year - the bulk of which is sawmill chip with some pulp logs also being used while the wood species include Spruce, Pine, and Larch. Medite employs 160 people directly and also supports a significant number of indirect jobs in harvesting, transport and maintenance.

Date Released: 07 December 2007