Forestry Focus

History of Irish Forestry

Ireland’s forests and forestry have a chequered history from the post glacial period to the present day. Unsustainable exploitation for wood and fuel, coupled with clearances for agriculture resulted in the decline of the once extensive native forests that covered the island. Early attempts at reforestation in the late 1700s, while innovative at the time had little impact on restoring forest cover. By the beginning of the 20th Century only 1.5% of the land area of Ireland was covered with forests. However, following the foundation of the State successive governments  encouraged and supported a national reforestation programme and as a result have increased the forest estate to the current level of 10%.

The history of Irish forestry is chronicled in many publications. Presented in this section are some key papers, information notes and books that describe different aspects of the development of Irish forestry from the earliest times to the present day; also the use of wood through the ages and forestry in Ireland in relation to significant historical events.