Ireland’s fourth National Forest Inventory published
The national forest estate has reached 11.6% of the total land area.
The total forest area has increased from 697,842 hectares in 2006 to 808,848 ha in 2022.
Broadleaf tree species account for nearly of one-third (30.6%) of the stocked forest area; conifer species represent 69.4. The share of broadleaf species increased by 5.9% between 2006 and 2022.
Between 2006 and 2022 semi-natural forests are responsible for one-third (33.1%) of the new forest areas captured.
For the first time over half (411,484 ha or 50.9%) of forests are in private ownership and 397,364 ha (49.1%) in public ownership.
The national forest estate is crucial for our climate, storing 323.5 million tonnes of carbon.
Minister of State with responsibility for Forestry at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett, today announced the publication of the main findings of Ireland’s fourth National Forest Inventory (NFI). The publication of the NFI is the culmination of three years’ work by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to record and assess the extent and nature of Ireland’s forests, both public and private. The NFI is undertaken every 5 years, and this is the fourth Inventory to be published.
Commenting on the publication, the Minister said
“This National Forest Inventory is the fourth undertaken by my Department since 2004, and it provides us with up-to-date information about the extent and changing nature of Ireland’s forests. The NFI cycles have provided results on aspects such as forest area change over time and the growing contribution that Ireland’s forests are making to national priorities such as climate change and biodiversity.”
“Our new €1.3bn Forestry Programme shows our commitment to growing the forest estate with a target of 18% cover by 2050. This is the biggest and largest funded forestry programme ever introduced by an Irish government, and it has been designed emphasise close to nature forestry and to ensure farmers will be its primary beneficiaries. Farmers will receive premiums for 20 years in the new Forestry Programme, and the premiums themselves will be up to 66% higher than the previous programme.”
In relation to the findings themselves, the Minister added
“Overall we are seeing that the national forest estate is still expanding and has now reached 11.6% of the total land area, with a wide variety of forest types present. The increase in area is a result of afforestation and the natural development of semi-natural forests on areas such as those previously used for industrial peat extraction. Between 2006 and 2022 semi-natural forests are responsible for one-third (33.1%) of the new forest areas captured. I’m also pleased to note that the share of broadleaf species in the national forest estate now stands at 30.6%, an increase of 5.9% since the first NFI results were published in 2006, and we have designed the new incentives for broadleaf planting in the Forest Strategy Implementation Plan to drive this figure further.”
The total growing stock volume of Irish forests is over 142 million m³, an increase of over 25.5 million m³ since 2017. The balance between increment and fellings is an important indicator as it describes the sustainability of wood production over time, the current availability of wood and the potential for the future. Gross annual volume increment between 2017 and 2022 was 10 million m³ per year, while over the same period the mean annual standing volume felled was 4.1 million m3 per year. For the first time the forest ownership balance has changed, where now private forest owners, mainly farmers, now own approximately 50.9% of the national forest estate with the remainder in public ownership, mainly Coillte.
The Minister also advised that
“the information provided by the NFI remains crucial in the formulation of Government policy. Government policy needs to be under-pinned and monitored using accurate, current information, and the data provided by the NFI is an excellent resource. The recent work on the development of Ireland’s Forest Strategy is a good example of this”.
The Minister also expressed her appreciation to all landowners for facilitating access to their lands during the course of the NFI data collection.
All NFI publications, including the main findings booklet are available on the Department’s website. Further information on the NFI may be obtained from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Johnstown Castle Estate, Co. Wexford; Tel: 053 9163400 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org