To reach our climate targets, we need the highest standards of protection and development for Ireland’s forests as they have a significant role in creating a sustainable green economy in Ireland.
Ireland was once largely covered by forests. Many of the place names we know today refer to this heritage. However, by the early 1900s, much of our forests were gone and forest cover was as low as 1%. Since the end of the Second World War, Government policy has been largely to support afforestation. In 2010, as a result, forest cover was 10.82%, with the majority of this being coniferous. To achieve a sustainable and self-sufficient forest industry, a target of 17% cover by 2030 - still well below the European average of 43% - has been suggested. This is in the context of rapidly decreasing forest cover worldwide
To reach our climate targets, we need the highest standards of protection and development for Ireland’s forests. It is clear from the many economic and ecological benefits that forests provide that forestry will have a central and significant role in creating a sustainable green economy in Ireland. In addition to economic benefits, healthy and well managed forests provide invaluable social and environmental improvements.
A graduated adoption of Close to Nature-Continuous Cover permanent forestry silvicultural systems and management.
The planting of 10,000 ha trees per annum until 2035, of which broadleaves should be well over the 38% planted in 2010.
The retention of hedgerows and their enhancement with appropriate species.
The planting of protection forests bordering rivers and lakes to protect water quality and assist in managing flood risks.
The protection of heritage and amenity trees, including by improved legislation.