Forest Cover in the Republic of Ireland

Credit: DAFM

According to Forestry Services Ltd. in the past, before human settlement Ireland was predominantly covered in forests over 9,000 years ago with Oak and Pine as the main forests. As blanket bogs increased in size and farming became more prevalent the level of forest cover decreased over time. It is believed that industrialisation during the 16th and 17th centuries also had a big part to play in declines in forest cover as wood was widely used for ship building. Plantations by the British on Irish land also had a role to play as landlords cleared the lands they now occupied. By 1903 forest cover had declined to 1.5% in Ireland when State Forestry was etablished.

Due to Ireland becoming part of the EU we have made a much greater effort with regards to afforestation in the country thanks to many schemes and grants, most of which is from private landowners. Currently Ireland’s landscape is made up of 11% forest cover which is the worst in Europe alongside the Netherlands although there are much smaller states with less. Many of of the forests in Ireland are conifer plantations and only 1% is made up of native woodland. The plan by the Irish government is to increase Ireland’s forest cover up to 17% by 2030

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