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AMBER Statement – Ireland’s Forest Strategy

26 January 2023

AMBER, the SFI Centre for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research welcomes the inclusion of the Forestry Strategy debate in the Dáil Schedule today, Thursday 26th January 2023. This debate is long overdue and welcomed as a first step in a public discussion regarding forestry management and afforestation in Ireland. It is greatly hoped that this will lead to The Forestry Policy Group chaired by Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity Pippa Hackett being tasked with establishing a policy for measuring and assessing climate, environmental and ecological value.

Prof. Mick Morris, Director of SFI Research Centre AMBER and lead of NXTGENWOOD an Irish research program for delivery of next generation wood products said of the debate, “As expansion of Irish forestry continues research, development, and innovation to maximise the climate, environmental and ecological value of this resource are vital”.

All forest planting needs careful analysis of benefit.  Many forests have a net negative climate contribution, and each plantation must be properly assessed for climate value. We haven’t done this type of assessment in Ireland and the methodology is not yet well established however there is an opportunity to apply these assessments in decision making now.

The general assumption seems to be that planting trees is good. This can be inaccurate. For example, monocultures (Sitka spruce in our case) contribute little to climate because of lack of biodiversity and can negatively affect emissions. Proper assessment procedures must be developed and implemented to ensure that decisions regarding Irish Forestry are of value to and consider people, planet and prosperity.

Regarding the Coillte deal which sparked this debate, Prof Morris commented, “Careful consideration must be given to any selling of forestry and a climate, environmental and ecological impact assessment conducted.  It is worrying that information such as what this deal encompasses in terms of afforestation and reforestation is not available. An important element of any discussion may be that economic return of forestry must be balanced against the climate and other value of which may not be realised for 100+ years.  It is understood that these are forests which will be harvested circa 2046, well before then.”






AMBER is the SFI (Science Foundation Ireland) Centre for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research. The Centre brings a multidisciplinary partnership between leading academics in Advanced Materials Science, BioEngineering and Industry. Working collaboratively we develop new materials and devices for the ICT, medical devices, energy, and sustainable industrial technology sectors. https://ambercentre.ie/


Prof. Mick Morris is Professor of Surface and Interface Chemistry at Trinity College Dublin and Director of SFI Research Centre AMBER and has spear headed the Centre for the last 7 years. Prof. Morris has led AMBER towards developing materials and technologies that respect sustainability and is an international advocate for the circular economy and leads a multi-institution grant for the development of wood technology and sustainability with the UK Building Research Group. He has promoted the circular economy internationally and has engaged with researchers and policy makers in the United States, Turkey, Switzerland, and the UK. He recently delivered a lecture at an industry-academic event at UC Berkely highlighting the need for assessing sustainability in the semiconductor industry. https://ambercentre.ie/about/people/

NXTGENWOOD is an Irish research program and network for delivery of next generation wood products and increased economic return for Irish wood products. The NXTGENWOOD multisectoral research programme funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, will address innovation in structural timbers, green adhesives, and resins for bonded wood products such as plywood and MDF, extraction and synthesis of valuable biomaterials and biochemicals, and the development of wood-based composites and biopolymers.

In timber use, around 50% of a tree is waste (thus lowering CO2 benefits).  Whether this is for burning or bio-energy production this value is lost. NXTGENWOOD is seeking to provide solutions to avoid this waste. https://nxtgenwood.ie/about/


For further information contact:

Amy Sweetman – Communications & Public Affairs Manager, AMBER, SFI Research Centre for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research

E: sweetmam@tcd.ie    T: 00353 851350827   W: https://ambercentre.ie/

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