Woodlands of Ireland
With support from the Heritage Council, Woodlands of Ireland was established in 1998 in order to focus attention on Ireland's native woodland resource. The primary objective of Woodlands of Ireland is to generate public awareness of native woodlands and to develop management strategies aimed at ensuring their future viability. Two crucial aspects of Woodlands of Ireland’s work are its technical publications and the hosting of annual training courses on the planning and management of native woodlands.
Its current focus on native woodlands is derived mainly from conservation and forestry interests. Forest ecosystems contain animals and plants that are not found elsewhere and which deserve special attention. However, focusing on individual species is not enough - the whole ecosystem must be maintained in order to conserve its many inhabitants.
Many of Ireland’s woodlands are currently under threat from a number of quarters, principally the invasion of non-native species, especially rhododendron and laurel, overgrazing by deer and livestock, and developments resulting in clearance. Urgent action is required to control these threats and to secure the long-term future of affected woodlands.
Woodlands of Ireland has been centrally involved in the development of two key initiatives in order to pursue these objectives:
- The development of a millennium project on native trees and woodlands, which resulted in the People's Millennium Forests [external website] project.
- The development of a primarily conservation-oriented scheme targeted specifically at native woodlands that would be open to public and private owners. This has led to the new 'Native Woodland Scheme [external website]', which was further developed, launched and administered by the Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food.