70% of Irish adults say forests are more important during Covid-19 – providing a mental and physical wellness boost according to research commissioned by Coillte.

The RED C survey, which aimed to uncover people’s attitudes and behaviour towards trees and forests, also revealed that three quarters of Irish adults have pleasant childhood memories of visiting their local forest with family or friends and picnicking.

The survey results have been released to celebrate National Tree Week which is running all this week.

Research results

The survey reveals that 88% or nine out of ten Irish adults like trees. They remind them of the beauty of nature and lift their spirits.

70% of adults say forests and woodlands have become much more important during the Covid-19 pandemic as places to visit for a mental and physical wellness boost.

Three quarters of Irish adults (75%) have pleasant memories of walking or hiking in their local forest as a child with almost the same proportion (74%) enjoying pleasant memories of having a picnic with their family and friends.

Trees and the environment

According to the survey, 86% of respondents agree that we need to grow more trees to help tackle global warming. 91% of those surveyed understand that trees convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into oxygen and clean the air we breathe.

An average of 54% of Irish people understand, the floors, roofs, and doorframes of their homes contain wood from Irish forests.

Managing director of Coillte Forest, Mark Carlin said: “We’re delighted so many people appreciate their local forests and outdoor spaces more during lockdown.”

Visitor numbers to Coillte’s forests have doubled (in places like the Dublin Mountains) and tripled (from end February to end December 2020) in some cases since lockdown began, according to Carlin.

“It’s striking that just over half of respondents believe Irish wood is used extensively in their homes but they may not realise it’s used in 90% of new house builds, in attics, floors and roofs,” he added.

Irish wood is used because it’s of high quality.

Coillte forestry

The survey asked whether people were aware of how many Coillte forests exist for public use.

The results show:

  • The majority (56%) of Irish adults are not aware there are at least 250 public recreational forests with marked walking trails in Ireland they can visit;
  • Six out of ten (63%) adults are not aware Coillte has an open forestry policy which means you can visit all 6,000 forest properties nationwide.

“We encourage people to seek out and enjoy their local Coillte forest whilst respecting the 5km Covid-19 restrictions,” Carlin continued.

“It will be a positive, for many people to learn there are so many Coillte forests that are free to explore with their friends and family.

Recreational time

The research also examined how Irish forest visitors like to spend their time there, highlighting that almost two thirds (65%) choose a walk or exercising by themselves.

Almost six out of ten (59%) like walking with their spouse or partner, while three out of ten (31%) enjoy walking their dog.

A quarter (26%) visit their local forest to provide their children with exercise and 15% like to spend time picnicking.

Donated trees

Coillte sponsors this year’s National Tree Week (March 21- 27) and will donate over 100,000 tree saplings nationwide in partnership with the Tree Council of Ireland and the Easy Treesie Project this year.

The Easy Treesie Project is helping children achieve its goal of planting one million trees, one for each child in Ireland by 2023.

Darryl Pyper-Dill a sixth class pupil from Lusk Senior National School in Co Dublin celebrates National Tree Week 2021

The Easy Treesie Project falls under the umbrella of Crann, an Irish voluntary tree organisation dedicated to the promotion and protection of Ireland’s trees, hedgerows and woodlands. It is a non-profit registered charity.

The 100,000 trees supplied by Coillte will be planted by school children across the country this year.