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National Forest Inventory Publications (2012)

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has published of three National Forest Inventory (NFI) documents: NFI Methodology (2012), NFI Main Findings (2012) and NFI Results (2012).

The 2006 National Forest Inventory (NFI) was the first statistical and multi-resource inventory carried out on the national forest estate. In order to assess changes in the forest estate over time repeated assessments are required. As a result, the field data collection for the second NFI commenced in 2009 and was completed in 2012. Again multi-resource information was generated including  parameters such as area and species composition,  growing stock (m3) , biodiversity, health and vitality, carbon content and soil type; for the entire national forest estate. Data on minor tree species and natural regeneration were also included. With this Second NFI   new parameters such as forest area change, volume increment and latest harvesting volume estimates allow, for the first time, monitoring of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) on a temporal basis.

The Department highlighted some of the findings of the inventory and changes over time, including:

  1. The total forest area in Ireland is 10.5% of the total land area;
  2. 53% of forests are in public ownership and 47% in private ownership, an increase of 4% in the private share since 2007;
  3. Just over half (56%) of the national forest estate is less than 20 years old, a decrease from almost two thirds(63%) in 2007; reflecting the growing maturity of the national forest estate.
  4. Over one quarter of the forest estate contains broadleaf tree species.
  5. The average growing stock per hectare for the national forest estate is 148m³ while the average annual increment per hectare is 11.5m³.
  6. Greater utilisation of the forest resource is shown in the second NFI, with the area of forests thinned overall increasing by over 20,000 ha.
  7. Nearly half (47%) of the gross annual increment was harvested between 2006 and 2012; showing sustainable harvesting in Ireland’s forests.
  8. The national forest estate is an important and expanding sink for carbon containing 381 million tonnes of same. This carbon resource has proven to be of pivotal significance in Ireland achieving its Kyoto target under the first commitment period of 2008-2012.

While the publications are of particular interest to those directly involved in the sector, the approach taken, the technology applied and the range of findings which have resulted would make them attractive to a very wide audience. Further information on the NFI can be obtained from: Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Johnstown Castle Estate, Co. Wexford Tel: 053 916 3400. Email: nfi@agriculture.gov.ie

The publications can be downloaded by clicking on the links below.