A new study has found that replacing fossil materials with wood products could save 3.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year in Ireland.

The research, commissioned by Coillte, was led by former director of climate, energy and land tenure at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Dr Peter Holmgren.

It highlights the CO2 savings created by wood products from Irish forests and was based on a review of international studies.

The research looked at the climate benefits of using Irish timber in construction, packaging and energy.

wood products

Holmgren found that the current volume of Irish wood products has a “displacement effect” of 3.7 million tonnes of CO2 per year.

This corresponds to approximately 6% of Ireland’s total annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and is equivalent to removing almost 1.35 million cars from Irish roads.

Commenting on the report, Mark McAuley, director of Forest Industries Ireland (FII), said:

“This new research provides insight into the true benefits of forestry and forest products. Not only do the forests we grow absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but the products we make from our forests have a major impact on displacing carbon-intensive products in our economy.

McAuley said Ireland has undervalued the contribution forestry can make to offsetting emissions and this needs to be fully assessed under the new policy.

“Productive forests and the products they produce make a triple contribution to climate change – forests absorb carbon as they grow; wood products sequester this carbon; and they also replace products that emit a lot of CO2 during their manufacture,” he explained.

“Forests are a natural carbon capture and storage system that will benefit the world for generations to come. They are the most scalable solutions to climate change and one of the most cost-effective ways for the world to deal with its harmful emissions,” McAuley concluded.