Doyle highlights importance of forestry in Galway

Minister of State with responsibility for Forestry Andrew Doyle recently toured Galway to highlight the importance of the forest industry chain to the local and regional economy in the county.

The minister placed special emphasis on the fact that all elements of the industry chain are present in Galway and are providing long-term sustainable employment in the county.

Minister Doyle noted: “Forest management companies such as Veon, forest contractors such as Clement Kelly, timber processors such as Murray Timber Group and ECC play a large and important role as employers in Galway.”

The minister also highlighted the recent forestry Midterm Review which reinforced the support scheme in place for farmers who wish to plant part of their farms and diversify their income streams.

The Midterm Review has significantly increased payments under the scheme and he expects further uptake of the scheme from farmers in the Galway region in 2018.

“With all the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, forestry has proved to be an extremely good choice for some farmers to pursue on the best-use-of-land basis.

“The forestry schemes are providing alternative best-use options for farmers in Galway and farmers can choose to diversify their income stream with forestry, which can be financially rewarding as well as helping to mitigate the effects of climate change through natural carbon storage,” he added.

Minister of State Andrew Doyle officially opening Veon’s new regional office in Athenry

Minister Doyle officially opened Veon’s new regional office based in the mart in Athenry, which will provide forestry advice to farmers who are: considering planting forestry; seeking to maximise the profitability of their existing plantations; or seeking to sell their plantations.

Minister Doyle visited Niall Dempsey’s plantation in Craughwell. Veon planted 52ac for Niall with a mix of Sitka spruce, Norway spruce and Oak and all plots are “thriving” after five years’ growth, according to Veon.

Dempsey told the minister that, in addition to cattle rearing and sheep farming, he considered forestry as an ideal option for himself – as it frees up time to concentrate on his other farming activities.

Clement Kelly, managing director of C. Kelly Forestry Contractors – a prominent forest contractor in the west – spoke to Minister Doyle about his company, which is involved in all aspects of forestry contracting from establishment, reforestation, thinning and clear-felling.

L-R: Enda Monaghan Irish Farmers Association, Clement Kelly MD Clement Kelly Forestry Contractors, Minister Andrew Doyle, Ronan Finnegan of Veon, John Ryan of Murray Timber Group

In discussion with Minister Doyle, John Ryan, senior forestry manager (procurement) at Murray Timber Group (MTG), said that the company currently employs around 160 people directly in its processing facilities at Ballygar, Co. Galway, and Ballon, Co. Carlow, and the same again indirectly.

Ryan is responsible for the purchasing, harvesting and haulage of over 500,000m³ of round logs annually and noted that MTG has invested tens of millions of euro in state-of-the-art processing facilities – which the minister said was a vote of confidence in Galway and also in the Irish forestry sector.

Forestry is about people, according to Veon, and the company is playing its part in ensuring that timber is sourced locally from local forest owners and that they can maximise the financial benefits from their forests throughout the life-cycle of their forests.