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 the least densely wooded Member States of the EU along with Malta, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Forest cover in Ireland, at 10.5% in 2012 is one of the lowest in the EU where the average is 33.5%; Worldwide forest cover is 30.6%
  • In 2010, Sweden alone accounted for 17.6 % of all the wooded land in the EU, and the five largest wooded areas (in Sweden, Spain, Finland, France and Germany) collectively contributed well over three fifths (62.4 %) of wooded areas in the EU.

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 2016:

  • Forest cover was estimated at 731,650 ha or 10.5% of total land area
  • Forest cover was estimated to be at its highest level in over 350 years
  • Of the total forest area in 2012, nearly 396,000 ha or 54% was in public ownership. This represents a reduction from 57% in 2006
  • 93% of public forests were managed by Coillte
  • Forest estates consists of three quarters conifers and one quarter 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 10.5%
  • Sitka spruce was the most common species, occupying 52% of the forest area. Over one quarter of the forest estate contains broadleaves. Of the broadleaves 34% 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 (23%), ash (12.5%), followed by oak (10%)

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