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Forestry and Climate Change

Forests plays a significant role in mitigating climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converting it to carbon, which is then stored in the wood and vegetation of trees.  This process is known as carbon sequestration.  In 2008, the net contribution of Ireland's Kyoto eligible forests (i.e. new forest planted since 1 January 1990) amounted to 2.75 million tonnes CO2.  Assuming a carbon cost €14.03[1]  per tonne, this represents a potential saving in the region of €38.58 million to the exchequer (in carbon credit purchases).

Forests also play a role in reducing Ireland's carbon emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels.  Wood from sustainably managed forests is carbon neutral fuel and is used in heating, and in combined heat and power (CHP) and electricity generation.  The increased use of indigenous wood fuel also offers significant opportunities to reduce Ireland's dependence on imported fossil fuels and contribute to national fuel security.

The substitution of carbon intensive products, such as steel, plastic and aluminium, with timber products can make also make a significant contribution to climate change mitigation.  Furthermore, wood products can be recycled or combusted at end of life, thereby closing the carbon cycle.

[1]This reflects the average price paid by NTMA for carbon units purchased in 2008 (see Carbon Fund Annual Report 2008, page 14)