Latest Irish forestry statistics published

The latest Irish forestry statistics were recently published by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The Minister of State with responsibility for Forestry, Andrew Doyle, announced the publication of the report this afternoon.

Welcoming the report, the minister said: “‘Forest Statistics – Ireland 2017’ is an annual compilation of statistics on the forest estate and the forest industry in Ireland.

“It is prepared by my department and is the reference document for forestry statistics in Ireland. Its thoroughness and ease of access mean that it is the definitive compendium of up-to-date information on forestry.

Information is essential for any business or industry and forestry is no different. Such information is invaluable to monitor progress and to assist in policy and decision making.

“It is also interesting and reassuring to note, for example, forest cover is estimated to be at its highest level in over 350 years and that over one quarter of our forest estate contains broadleaves,” he said.

Minister Doyle also explained that the department will be publishing, in the coming months, results from the third cycle of the National Forest Inventory (NFI) – which is completed every five years.

Key statistics

The department defines a ‘forest’ as: land with a minimum area of 0.1ha; under stands of trees 5m or higher; having a minimum width of 20m; and a canopy cover of 20% or more within the forest boundary; or trees able to reach these thresholds in situ.

The forest definition relates to land use rather than land cover, with the result that open spaces within a forest boundary – either permanently or temporarily unstocked with trees, along with felled areas that are awaiting regeneration – are included as forest.

According to statistics from NFI 2012, the area of forest is estimated to be 731,650ha or 10.5% of the total land area of Ireland.

Of the total forest area, nearly 389,356ha or 53.2% is in public ownership – mainly Coillte, according to the report. As well as this, nearly three quarters of the stocked forest area is reportedly less than 30 years of age.