The most westerly forests in Europe

Historically, Ireland was an island of trees but by the end of the 19th century, Ireland’s forest cover had been reduced from 80% 6,000 years ago to just 1%. The formation of the newly independent Irish State in the early 20th century saw the establishment of state forests, consisting mainly of exposure-tolerant, fast-growing conifers planted on marginal lands, with the aim of making Ireland self-sufficient for timber and providing employment in rural areas where agriculture was less productive. Since the 1990s, the majority of afforestation has been carried out by private individuals, mainly farmers, because of attractive afforestation grants. These forests are more mixed in species, with the majority of the 30% broadleaf cover in Ireland in private ownership. Ireland’s forest cover is now at 11%, 50.9% of which is privately owned. The national aim is to reach 18% forest cover by 2050, with a focus on planting multifunctional forests that deliver for industry, climate, the environment and people.

Forest area

808,848 hectares = 11.6%

Irish Forest Owners

Irish Forest Owners (IFO) was formed in 2020 and is a national representative body for forest owner producer groups in Ireland. The IFO works to promote the development of private forestry and private forest ownership, and to enable producer groups to support their members in achieving the full economic potential of their forests. Through the IFO, our member groups are harnessing the benefits of structured collaboration in order to increase the influence of the primary producer in the industry and to improve outcomes for forest owners. Our central emphasis is on training and education, timber mobilisation and marketing, group certification and afforestation.


President: Nicholas Sweetman

Secretary/National Coordinator​: Olive Leavy

Web site:



Ballycourcy House


Co. Wexford


Phone: +353 83 8855070