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The Wood-processing Sector in Ireland

Given the vast number of items made from wood that we come across every day it is worth taking a snapshot view of the role of the sector in our economy.

The two largest industries are the sawmill sectors comprising some 6 large sawmills (over 10,000 cubic metres of round timber pa) with some 15 smaller mills. Then come the Fibreboard and panel industries. There are two large board plants in the southeast, one chipboard factory in Clare and one door-molding plan in Leitrim. Together they use around 3 million cubic metres of round timber and produce most of the structural timber, pallets, and other non structural wood as well as chip and panel board. All these products are used here while boards are also exported. As well there are a small number of small mills (including mobiles) specializing in hardwoods. Wood pellets for fuel are produced in a sawmill in NI and woodchips are a by-product of saw milling. Fuel Wood chips production directly from thinning is at a development stage but growing.

Feeding into these industries are a range of other businesses from the timber growers, state and private, and their support industries; forestry management and harvesting contractors, transport companies and equipment and materials suppliers.

Down stream come the house builders, farm building and fencing enterprises including now a timberframe manufacturer, preservative appliers, furniture carpentry, and joinery makers, retailers and DIY outlets.

At the small enterprise end of the scale are the craft enterprises, often one or two person operations. There are now hundreds of wood turners, craft makers such as basket makers and sculptors

The forest and wood industry employs a significant number of people; about 2000 in saw milling and particle board production, 4000 in forest establishment and management, 4000 in the building and carpentry and 1000 in container, manufacture. Another 5000 are employed in downstream activities supporting the industry such as material supply and retailing and craftwork.

The annual, value of the industry is worth over 1b

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