Woodlands

Overview

Native woodlands, as the name implies, are composed of native tree species. In Ireland, native woodlands are mostly broadleaved in character, with oak, ash, alder and birch often the dominant tree species. Native conifer woodlands are very rare, the best examples being the yew wood on the Muckross peninsula in the Killarney National Park and the Rockforest Scots Pine and yew wood in the Burren. 

To encourage the restoration of existing native woodlands and the planting of new ones the Native Woodland Scheme, administered by the Forest Service, provides attractive grants for the establishment and on-going maintenance of native woodland areas.

Conservation Status of Woodland

Overgrazing by livestock and wild deer and invasion by non-native shrubs such as Rhododendron ponticum pose real threats to the long-term existence of some of these woodlands; the oak woods of the Killarney National Park, the Wicklow National Park, and the Glengarriff Nature Reserve being notable examples. These pressures, in conjunction with the continued fragmentation of remaining stands, have led to many woodlands in Ireland currently having an unfavourable conservation status.

Types of Woodland

Two types of woodland habitat listed under the EU Habitats Directive would benefit from more appropriate management by grazing:

  1. Old sessile oak woods (EU code 91A0)
  2. Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (EU code 91E0)

For information on native woodlands within Ireland explore ‘National Survey of Native Woodland 2003-2008

For surveys of EU Habitats Directive woodlands explore ‘Results of a Monitoring Survey of Old Sessile Oak Woods and Alluvial Forests