Ireland is falling behind its global peers in terms of its timber production, according to a study by the country’s Department of Agriculture.
The report said the country is not producing enough timber for its own consumption, while it is also suffering from a weak and declining economy.
The government has been criticised for failing to meet targets to produce a higher percentage of its forest land, particularly in the heartland of the country.
The latest data shows that while the number of hectares harvested in the country increased by 0.6% in the year to April this year, this fell by 0,6% to 5,811,846 hectares.
The study said this was a significant fall from the 6,919,854 hectares of land used for farming that was harvested in 2013-14.
However, the data showed that the country still had more wood produced than it needs for its current needs.
There are over 100 million hectares of forest land that needs to be converted to other uses, and of these, the report said, almost a quarter is already in use.
It said a further 24 million hectares are in use but are not being converted.
In addition, a further 3.7 million hectares is not being managed for wood, or is being managed as a forestry park, while more than 30 million hectares should be being converted to agriculture.
The Department of National Development, which manages Ireland’s forestry and landscape resources, said it was “disappointed” that the number fell to just 4.3 million hectares.
“This is a worrying statistic,” said Dr John Burt, the Department of Forest and Plant Resources’ senior scientist.
“Our forests are being converted into agricultural land, and we are not doing enough to manage them.”
Ireland is one of the last countries in the world to have the forest to support its agricultural sector, and it is a concern that we are failing to deliver on the promise of supporting the forest.
“A report by the Irish Forestry Council (IFA) last year said that the growth in the number and volume of forest fell in recent years.
It said there had been a gradual decline in the total forest area but also that there had become more mature and mature areas, which meant there was more forest available for planting.
The IFA said it expected the number to fall further in the coming years.
The Irish Forest and Range Association (IFRA) said it had no reason to doubt the report’s findings.”
The report shows that our forestry policy needs to make more progress to ensure our forests remain a resource to be nurtured and used.”