Native forests are forests that are formed almost totally of native trees and shrubs, e.g. oak, ash, birch, yew, hazel, willow and holly. Natural, wild, native forests once covered most of the land area of Ireland, but over thousands of years they were cleared to make way for farmland. Today, native forests account for about 14% of Ireland’s forest cover – the remainder are plantations of conifers and naturalised non-native broadleaved trees such as beech and sycamore.
Some of today’s native forests have grown from the wild, having regenerated naturally on abandoned farmland. Other native forests originated as plantations of oak during the 1800s, which have since reverted to a wild state.
All of Ireland’s forests are valuable habitat for wildlife, but the native forests are given special recognition because they most closely resemble Ireland’s natural forest ecosystems.
Some of Coillte’s forests display strong ecological characteristics of native forests, and have the potential to be restored to ecologically valuable native forests.
Coillte has worked on two major projects to restore ecologically valuable native forests that were converted to plantation forests in the past. For more information, go to: