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Deforestation mapping and estimation in Ireland





Since its establishment in 1994, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has required Annex 1 Parties to provide an annual inventory of GHG emissions and removals. As forests act as an important and manageable carbon sink, a common challenge is to quantify spatial and temporal patterns of forest carbon. Over the last half of the 20th century, forest cover in Ireland increased from less than 1% to almost 11% and it is a strategic government aim to increase forest cover to 17% by 2030.

Results from Ireland’s first National Forest Inventory (NFI), in 2006, indicate that 6,000 ha of forest land was deforested during the period 2000 - 2006. This deforestation could have a significant impact on emissions. Increased deforestation may also negatively affect the biodiversity and ecosystem services provided by forest habitats. Recent reviews have identified problems with current land-use change methodologies; the spatial resolution of existing methodologies may be too low to accurately detect deforestation. The availability of high resolution imagery and repeat NFI data offers a valuable opportunity to assess and improve the accuracy of reporting forest related land-use change in Ireland.

The aim of this project is to report on the accuracy and validity of current methods used to track deforestation in Ireland. Using a combination of GIS analysis, remote sensing and ground surveys, the project aims to deliver a national deforestation map for Ireland for the period 2000 to 2012. The findings of the DEFORMAP project will inform future inventories of forest resources and assist sustainable forest management in Ireland

For further information on this project please see our project website:


Forest Ecology

Dept. of Zoology, Ecology & Plant Science, University College Cork, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork