Forestry

A forest is characterised as land with a minimum area of 0.1 ha under stands of trees 5 m or greater, having a minimum width of 20 m and canopy cover of 20% or more within the forest boundary; or trees able to reach such thresholds.

  • EU statistics†indicate that Ireland is one of the least densely wooded Member States of the EU along with Malta, and the Netherlands. Forest cover in Ireland, at 11% in 2017 is one of the lowest in the EU where the average is 33.5%; Worldwide forest cover is 30.6%
  • Sweden has the largest forest cover in the EU representing approximately 68.95% of the country’s total surface area (28 million hectares) and the five largest wooded areas were in Norway, Spain, Finland, France and Germany.
  • In 2017,†Germany has the highest total growing stock of the EU 28, at over 3.6 billion m≥.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) provide an interactive viewer for members of the public to map many environmental features at a national level, including forests. The Annual Forest Sector Statistics Report produced by the DAFM also provides a comprehensive overview of the state of Irish forests. Specifically, in Ireland in 2017:

  • Forest cover was estimated at 770,020 ha or 11% of the total land area of Ireland .
  • Forest cover was estimated to be at its highest level in over 350 years
  • Of the total forest area in 2017, nearly 391,357 ha or 50.8% was in public ownership.†This represents a reduction from 54% in 2012.
  • Of this 380,156 ha of the public forest area is managed by Coillte.
  • Forest estates consists 71.2% conifers and 28.7% broadleaves
  • Nearly three quarters of existing forest area is under 30 years of age
  • Since the foundation of the State the area of land under forest in Ireland has grown from 1.4% of the land area, to the current 11%
  • Sitka spruce was the most common species, occupying 51.1% of the forest area. Over one quarter of the forest estate contains broadleaves. Of the broadleaves 33.6% are ‘Other broadleaf species’ (both long living and short living), of which over half are willow. The next largest broadleaf species group was birch species (24.4%), ash (13.1%), followed by oak (9.2%)

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