Deforestation in Ireland 2000 – 2012.

  • John L. Devaney Smithsonian Environmental Research Centre, 647 Contees Wharf, Edgewater, MD 21037, USA.
  • John J. Redmond Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Johnstown Castle, Co. Wexford.
  • Grace M. Cott Smithsonian Environmental Research Centre, 647 Contees Wharf, Edgewater, MD 21037, USA.
  • John O'Halloran School of Biological Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES), University College Cork, Cork.
Keywords: Deforestation, Ireland, UNFCCC, National Forest Inventory, Land-use change.


Although Ireland’s national forest area continues to expand, recent evidence has suggested that the gross annual rate of deforestation is also increasing. Heretofore, no spatially explicit characterisation of contemporary deforestation areas in Ireland exists. Given uncertainties associated with current deforestation estimates, investigation of new methodologies is required to inform future land-use change accounting approaches. This paper presents a summary of the DEFORMAP project, which investigated the extent and nature of deforestation in Ireland for the 2000 – 2012 period. A combination of high resolution aerial photography, satellite imagery and ancillary datasets was used to quantify forest loss in the Republic of Ireland. In total, 5,457 ha of deforested land was identified which, following accuracy assessment, was error-adjusted to 7,465 ±785 ha. The error-adjusted gross annual national deforestation rate for the period of study was 0.103%. The deforestation rate increased from the first time interval investigated (2000-2005) to the second (2005-2010), followed by a reduction during the 2010 – 2012 period. High inter-county variation in gross annual deforestation was identified, with the highest level of deforestation occurring in Co. Monaghan (0.25% yr-1) and the lowest in Co. Limerick (0.02% yr-1). Principal post-deforestation land-use transitions were to agricultural grassland, builtland and wetland. Patterns of post-deforestation land-use transitions varied widely between counties indicating changing regional pressures on forest land. This paper presents an important development in our understanding of contemporary land-use change in Ireland by developing the first national deforestation map. The Deforestation Map presented here will provide a valuable record of forest loss, which can be used to validate any future earth observation based deforestation monitoring approaches, such as automated radar remote sensing techniques.
How to Cite
Devaney, J. L., Redmond, J. J., Cott, G. M. and O’Halloran, J. (2016) “Deforestation in Ireland 2000 – 2012.”, Irish Forestry. Available at: (Accessed: 5March2024).