Increasing the use of timber in construction is central to the work of a new Steering Group appointed by the Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett.
Speaking after the first meeting of the group, Minister Hackett said, “we want to see more timber used in construction. Not only is wood a sustainable, home-grown product, but it can also replace steel and concrete, reducing the carbon footprint of our buildings. Timber used in construction is an excellent way of storing and locking up carbon, and has a positive impact on our climate. We know our forests bring great benefits for our climate, water quality, nature and biodiversity – growing timber as a product for construction is also central to our climate efforts and to the future of the forest sector.”
The new Interdepartmental & Industry Steering Group on Timber in Construction brings together industry and government departments to assess the needs of the sector and to increase the use of timber in construction. The group is tasked with examining potential obstacles to increasing the use of timber, including regulatory and standardisation challenges, and to maximising the use of home-grown timber.
The new €1.3 billion Forestry Programme, launched in September, offers attractive grants and yearly premiums for landowners to plant new forests for timber. Applicants can receive grants of €4,452 per hectare, and annual payments of up to €863 per year for 20 years to plant a new diverse conifer forest for timber production with 20% broadleaf species through the new Afforestation Scheme. There is more information on the schemes available at gov.ie/forestry.
The Government is committed to increase the number of timber growers in the State, and offers grants to fully establish new forests and support the management of the existing forest estate. The Government’s new Forest Strategy places a strong emphasis on the use of timber and its important role in reducing the amounts of concrete and steel in construction.
The Chair of the group, Professor J Owen Lewis said, “I am delighted to see the enthusiasm and commitment of the Steering Group at today’s meetings. There is a real urgency to increase the use of timber in construction, and I have no doubt that if we work together we can create the conditions for positive change.”