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Dublin: 18°C Tuesday 15 June 2021

Forestry Inventory finds 10.5% of Ireland’s total land area is forest

There has been an increase in the private forestry estate of 4 per cent in the last six years.

Forest, Killarney National Park, County Kerry.
Forest, Killarney National Park, County Kerry.

THE TOTAL FOREST area in Ireland now stands at 10.5 per cent, according to the latest National Forestry Survey (NFI).

The survey shows that this is an increase of 0.5 per cent since 2006, with County Cork having the highest share of the national forest area at 83,619 ha or 11.6 per cent of the total forest estate.


The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine state the the purpose of the NFI is to record and assess the extent and nature of Ireland’s forests, both public and private, in a timely, accurate and reproducible manner so as to enable the sustainable development of Ireland’s forest resource.

County Wicklow still holds the title of the Garden of Ireland with the county having the highest forest cover at 17.7 per cent.

The inventory also looks at forest ownership. The share of private forest ownership has increased, with 47 per cent of forested areas being in private ownership and 53 per cent in public ownership. This represents an increase in the private forestry estate of 4 per cent in the last six years.

The most common forest is the Conifer forest, representing 74.2 per cent of all forests.

Age of forests

According to the latest findings, 56 per cent of the national forest estate is less than twenty years old, due to the successful uptake of State supported afforestation in the intervening years. Due to a favourable climate the department states the total standing growing stock of Irish forests has increased by over 25 million m³ since 2006.

The department adds that the balance between increment and fellings is an important indicator of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) in a country as it describes the sustainability of wood production over time, the current availability of wood and the potential for the future.

The NFI found that 47 per cent of the gross annual increment was harvested between 2006 and 2012, “which shows sustainable harvesting levels in Ireland’s forests,” they stated.

Tom Hayes, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine said Ireland’s forests play a “pivotal role in carbon sequestration, adding that the NFI has been crucial in documenting the contribution of our forests in achieving Ireland’s Kyoto target. Without Ireland’s forests the first Kyoto commitment period target (from 2008 to 2012) would not have been met”.

Read: Sale of Irish forest ‘cannot be justified’ on economic grounds>

Read: Second outbreak of ash dieback found in hedgerow>

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