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Forest Service

The Forest Service is responsible for ensuring the development of forestry within Ireland in a manner and to a scale that maximises its contribution to national socio-economic well-being on a sustainable basis that is compatible with the protection of the environment. Its strategic objectives are:

  1. To foster the efficient and sustainable development of forestry.
  2. To increase quality planting.
  3. To promote the planting of diverse species.
  4. To improve the level of farmer participation in forestry.
  5. To promote research and training in the sector.
  6. To encourage increased employment in the sector.

The main strategy of the Forest Service is to develop the forestry sector via a range of financial incentives by:

A photo of a tree in a forest

  1. increasing planting and the range of species planted,
  2. facilitating the development of the forest processing sector and
  3. training farmers and others in forest management techniques.

The planting target was 25,000 ha/year up until the year 2000 and 20,000 ha/year from 2001.

Despite a high level of planting in recent years, Ireland remains the least forested country in the European Union. By the end of the year 2004, the national forest estate stood at 680,000 ha. This represents almost 10% of Ireland's total geographical area, compared to the 35% average throughout the other EU Member-States.

Primary processing of timber output from Irish forests comprises two complementary sectors: sawmills and board mills. There are currently 6 large sawmilling firms, 10 medium-sized mills and over 30 small mills in Ireland. The 10 largest of these employ some 1,100 people.

Forestry and the Environment

As part of the Department's policy to ensure compatibility between forestry development and the protection of the environment, the Forest Service is implementing Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) with a view to ensuring that all timber produced in Ireland is derived from sustainably managed forests. This work is in accordance with Ireland's commitment to the six pan-European criteria for SFM adopted at the Third Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe, Lisbon, 1998. The implementation of SFM within Ireland is supported by the Irish National Forest Standard, the Code of Best Forest Practice and a suite of environmental guidelines (relating to water quality, landscape, archaeology, biodiversity and harvesting) as well as the work of the Forestry Inspectorate and the ongoing review of Irish forest legislation.

Control of Felling

Under the Forestry Act, 2014 and the Forestry Regulations 2017, (SI no 191 of 2017), with some exceptions, landowners are required to give notice of intention to fell trees. Further information may be obtained by contacting the Felling Section, Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Johnstown Castle Estate, Co. Wexford, or by email at

Control of Felling

Research and Development

The Forest Service has responsibility in Ireland for the promotion of research in forestry and forest products. These funds were expended by COFORD (The National Council for Forest Research and Development) on a wide range of research projects relating to reproductive material, silviculture and forest management and wood processing and product development.