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The many benefits of our forests

Ciara, Teagasc's virtual forestry adviser highlights in this video some of the many and wide-ranging economic, environmental and social benefits our forests provide for us every day of our lives.

Let’s consider the economic advantages…

When new broadleaf, conifer and mixed forests are planted, government grants cover the main start-up costs while attractive annual payments are available for several years.

Every day of our lives, we make great use of timber from our forests. A beech floor or an oak table are things of beauty. Irish-grown hardwoods are very valuable as they take a long time to mature and need careful management.

Ireland’s most important commercial timber species is Sitka spruce. Its uses range from pallets and packaging to timber fencing, roofing, timber frames, decking and wood pellets. Quality wood pellets, wood chip and firewood are a green, renewable source of heat displacing fossil fuels. As a result, Irish forestry contributes significantly to the economy, supporting many jobs, many in rural Ireland.

But what about the ecological credentials of our forests?

Wood is a locally grown, renewable, environmentally friendly, sustainable and cost-effective construction material and source of fuel. Using timber as a construction material, we substitute finite, energy-intensive products derived from aluminium, concrete, steel and plastic with much more sustainable wood products.

Fossil fuels travelled many thousands of kilometres. Wood is a locally grown fuel displacing fossil fuels.

Trees remove carbon dioxide from our atmosphere and store it in plant biomass, deadwood and harvested wood products. Our forests have already locked up more than 300 million tonnes of carbon to date.

“1 hectare of forest locks up 1 to 10 tonnes of CO2 every year!”

Trees growing near water are riparian woodlands. They intercept nutrients and silt from various sources before reaching our watercourses. Riparian woods also stabilise riverbanks, regulate water temperatures and provide a food source for aquatic life. Forests provide habitats for a wide range of flora and fauna. Fragmented habitats have some ecological value but when connected together, the benefits greatly increase, allowing plants and animals to travel and spread across the Irish countryside.

Social benefits of forests… What does that mean?

Forests enhance the landscape and provide us with special outdoor places to visit and enjoy. They also provide the ideal educational resource in which to learn about and appreciate the environment. Forests are a close-to-home natural resource that offer an escape from the “daily grind”; allowing us to re-connect with nature.  Did you know, a survey found that the main psychological wellbeing benefit for visitors to Irish forests was mental relaxation?

“We need forests to fight climate change!”  With good planning, forests do all that. But also so much more!

Watch Ciara in action below as she outlines the benefits of our forests

Ciara is now a full-time (virtual) staff member of the Forestry Development Department so you will see more of her in the future. 

The Teagasc Forestry Department issues an article on a Forestry topic every Friday here on Teagasc Daily  Subscribe to: Forestry e-News Keep up-to-date with the Teagasc Forestry Department here or follow them on Social Media here