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Industry

Irish forests largest since the 17th century

When the first Neolithic hunters colonised Ireland around 9000 years ago the island was almost covered by an ancient canopy of trees.

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Wild woodlands: Ireland’s forests are the largest since wolves roamed the island in the 17th century

Within two millennia the primeval forest where bears and elks prowled the tree cover was in serious decline as farming took hold. By the end of the 19th century less than 10 percent of the island was forested. Various schemes to replant the forests were tried but ultimately were not always successful until a change of policy 20 years ago.

Irish forestry minister Tom Hayes welcomed publication of the report that shows a four percent growth in private forest ownership and a large uptake in private thinning operations

Irish forestry minister Tom Hayes welcomed publication of the report that shows a four percent growth in private forest ownership and a large uptake in private thinning operations. The vast majority of the forest is owned by the government but just over 10 percent is in private hands.

The decline has now been reversed according to the Second Irish National Forest Inventory with the largest forest cover since 1600 when wolves still roamed the forests. Now around 10 percent of the country is forested with a 4 percent growth in six years—good news for the paper and print industries alike.


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