Stats: Everything you wanted to know about forestry in Ireland…

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), Pippa Hackett, has announced the publication of her Department’s annual Forest Statistics Report 2020.

This report is prepared annually by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

At the launch of the report, the minister commented:

“The report ‘Forest Statistics – Ireland 2020’ is the annual compilation of statistics on the forest estate and the forest sector in Ireland.

“It is the definitive compendium of up-to-date information on forestry in Ireland and is the go-to reference document for anybody interested in the subject.”

10 key statistics from ‘Forest Statistics – Ireland 2020’ include:
  • In 2019, €89.9 million was spent by DAFM on forest activities including afforestation; maintenance grants; annual premium payments; and grants for forest road infrastructure;
  • During 2019, 3,550ha of new forests were created. Cork had the highest afforestation area at 423ha followed by Clare at 352ha;
  • Nationally, conifer species are the dominant species present, representing 71.2% of forest area while broadleaved species accounted for 28.7%;
  • The proportion of broadleaves in new forests created during 2019 was 25%, which was up from 21% in the previous year;
  • Over half (50.8%) of forests are in public ownership, with the remainder in private ownership. Farmers have accounted for 81% of private lands afforested between 1980 and 2019;
  • Since 1980, over 23,000 private landowners have received grant aid to establish forests. The average size of private grant-aided afforestation since 1980 is 8.6ha;
  • Roundwood harvest (including firewood) in the Republic of Ireland in 2018 was 3.69 million cubic metres, the highest level since records began;
  • The private forest harvest exceeded 1 million cubic metres for the first time. 40% of the wood fibre available for use was used for energy generation, mainly within the forest products sector;
  • The construction of 94km of private forest roads was funded during 2019, an increase of 20km on the previous year. This reflects the projected increase in timber and wood to be harvested which is expected to double by 2030.
  • Felling licences were issued during 2019 for the thinning of 47,571ha and the clear-felling of 9,626ha;
  • Over half of Ireland’s forest estate is certified by international non-governmental organisations to promote good forest practice. The vast majority of this area is in the public forest estate, with 11,181ha of private forest currently certified.

Speaking about the future for Irish forestry Hackett said:

“The Programme for Government makes clear our commitment to forestry and woodland habitat creation in Ireland.

“As I engage with all stakeholders, it’s important to have reliable statistics to chart the progress of this new forestry programme.”