The public wants more woodland creation, with climate and conservation given as the top reasons, according to results from the 'Attitudes to Afforestation in Ireland' survey.

Published by Minister of State for biodiversity and land use Pippa Hackett, she said that the survey found a very positive attitude in general to forestry.

People said the most important benefits of forests were how they addressed climate change (25% of respondents), enhanced air quality (15%), contributed to wildlife and biodiversity (14%) and supported mental health (14%).

Almost two in five people said they would like an even balance of forests and agriculture in their ideal landscape, while a further quarter would like a forest-dominated landscape.


A majority of people (72%) favoured planting broadleaf and conifer trees in new forests, with 17% saying they would like to see mainly broadleaves planted and 11% favouring mainly conifers.

Adults with young children are more likely to have visited a forest in the past year, with the over-50s the most frequent visitors generally.

Fifty-eight percent of people have visited a forest in the past year, with exercise and recreation cited as the key visit driver.

Also, 57% said they visited woodlands more since the COVID-19 pandemic began compared with 2019.

Minister Hackett said: “I am delighted to see the positive attitude people have towards woodlands, with 88% agreeing that forests provide benefits to local communities.

"Four out of five linked the importance of new forests to climate change mitigation and conservation."

Under Project Woodland, a working group was established within it to deliver on a new strategy and a range of consultation initiatives are ongoing.

Next month, an online consultation will open for the public to share their views and a two-day deliberative dialogue on forestry, in a citizens’ assembly-style format, will also take place.

The survey of 1,012 people found most people live close to a forest, with 42% of us within 5km of one.

People living in urban areas are as close to woodlands on average as those living in the countryside. Half of woodland visitors wouldn’t change forests, but some suggested toilets could be provided, as well as better access and signage.

Minister Hackett added: “2022 is an exciting year for forestry in Ireland, as we look to increase the planting of new woodlands.

"Based on feedback from stakeholders, we are developing a new forest strategy that is rooted in a shared vision for forestry."

She added that the planting and felling of forests will have an impact for future generations and our target of 8,000ha per year shows the scale of our ambitions.

"I would encourage anyone interested in planting new forests to take the first step this year," she concluded.