Speaking at the Gala evening held last night in the Old Jameson Distillery, Smithfield, Dublin, as part of the AGM of the European Panels Federation, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, Tom Hayes TD,  highlighted the significance of the forestry sector in Ireland and the Government’s continued support for its development.

Welcoming the 150 delegates from throughout Europe, the Minister of State said: “Forestry is a vibrant, indigenous and sustainable industry and an important contributor to Ireland’s economy” adding that “The forestry industry provides employment for some 12,000 people, largely in rural communities, in areas such as growing, harvesting and processing of forest products. It represents a renewable natural resource that supplies raw material to processors such as Coillte’s successful panel products operations. The Irish forestry and forest products sector generates approximately €2.2bn in annual output and has developed strong export markets over the last number of years.”

The European Panel Federation (EPF) is the representative body of the wood panels industry in Europe and has members in 25 countries. The Federation held its 2013 Annual General Meeting in Dublin from Wednesday 3-5 July  with the gala evening on Thursday 4 July, the social highlight of the programme. The AGM is held every year in a major city in Europe. Coillte a member of the EPF hosted the event.

Hayes congratulated the event host, Coillte Teoranta, on winning the prestigious Millicom Award for Environmental and Corporate Sustainability at the recent European Business Awards, stating: “This is a significant achievement for the company and is recognition of its sustainability credentials from managing its forests to producing and exporting its wood panel products.”


He also commented that it was particularly fitting that Coillte hosted the AGM this year as 2013 is the Year of the Gathering with a number of festivals and events being held throughout the country.