FII is a new business sector within Ibec, the national lobby group that represents Irish businesses both domestically and internationally.

Twenty-two forestry and timber companies in Ireland have joined FII and include all the largest timber processors as well as companies involved in the establishment and management of forests.

Forest Industries Ireland says it will spearhead the industry response to crucial challenges such as Brexit and will be the primary voice of the sector in Ireland. It will work closely with government to deliver the full potential of the industry and make commercial forestry an even more substantial employer and exporter.

The industry is forecasting major growth in the coming years as the supply of raw material from Irish forests will double in the period 2017-2035. The industry’s combined turnover is set to double from €800m today to €1.6bn by 2035.

“Forest Industries Ireland is placing timber and forestry at the heart of Ireland’s rural economy,” said Brian Murphy, the inaugural chairman of FII and CEO of Enniskillen-based timber processor Balcas.

“The industry is enjoying a period of major capital investment, market buoyancy and substantial growth in wood supply. These three elements will underpin growth for the industry that will see it double in size in the next two decades.”

With 83% of Ireland’s forest product exports destined for the UK, Brexit is a source of anxiety for the sector. However, Mr Murphy remains optimistic.

“The UK is the key market where we intend to increase market share and we will continue to grow our presence there. We are confident that the industry will prosper in the long-term, even with Brexit.”

“Ireland has a natural competitive advantage in forestry and timber,” added Mark McAuley, FII director. “Our forests are delivering more and more timber to our sawmills and the construction products they make have a strong and growing market in the UK and Ireland.”