An investigation of the economic potential of Short Rotation Forestry in Ireland

Ana de Miguel

    Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    Abstract

    An increase in Short Rotation Forestry (SRF) in Ireland is expected in response to the increasing demand for fibre products and wood energy. SRF is the practice of cultivating fast growing tree species mainly for the production of biomass, through a rotation length of less than 20 years in Ireland. Although forest policy is promoting SRF, currently establishment is limited. This thesis aims to investigate the potential financial value of practicing SRF and evaluate whether SRF should be financially managed to allocate a range of assortments to diverse markets or supply a single market only. The work included: 1) Quantification of above ground biomass by dry matter content, merchantable volume and energy content from four SRF stands, two of Eucalyptus spp. and two of Populus spp.; 2) A market survey identifying pallet producers and the wood energy sector as most willing to use SRF material; 3) Benchmarking conditions that facilitated market development in Oregon with current conditions in Ireland, identifying: large scale plantations; high value product market development; and, investment in research, education and marketing, as key conditions; 4) Development of a unit conversion tool to quantify and value wood resources by volume, weight and energy parameters for market segment comparison and 5) Determination, from the landowner’s perspective, of the optimal financial value of SRF and finding maximum returns were for eucalyptus stands used for diverse markets, mainly small sawlog for pallet production. Contrary to policy objectives, SRF will not contribute significant biomass to fibre and fuel markets, under current financial and market conditions. Policy promoting SRF must be long term, and supported by industry, research and education to gain landowners acceptance. Further research on SRF wood properties and yield models will be necessary to underpin SRF development in Ireland.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    Supervisors/Advisors
    • Kent, Thomas J., Supervisor
    • Sottocornola, Matteo, Supervisor
    • O'Donovan, Orla, Supervisor
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2020

    Keywords

    • Short Rotation Forestry

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