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Forest Cover Datasets

Since 1995 the Forest Service have produced spatial datasets detailing the extent of the forest estate in Ireland. In order to accurately reflect the changes in the forest estate, there have been several amendments to the original dataset.

Historic Data - FIPS95

During the period 1993-1997 a forest classification project was carried out with the objective of categorising Ireland's forests into broad species and development classes (Gallagher et al 1996). In 1996, a dataset, FIPS95, was produced which included the results of the on screen interpretation of satellite imagery and Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi) orthophotos.  FIPS95 constituted a national forest inventory, which was derived from a combination of an automatic classification of satellite imagery and the on-screen interpretation of Landsat TM imagery (1993 - 1997), panchromatic orthophotos (1995), and the OSi 25" map series. Forest boundaries were digitised of using orthophotos (to within 2 m accuracy), and where appropriate the OSi 25" map series.   


In 1998, private afforestation records were appended to FIPS95, but only for those plantations in receipt of grant / premium aid at the end of 1998.  This new dataset became known as FIPS98. 

Current Dataset


Attribute and spatial information relating the grant aided afforestation programme has been captured digitally in the Forest Service database known as the Integrated Forest Information System (IFORIS).

In 2014, the Forest Service began working towards an update of the FIPS forest cover layer for the private estate.  This new forest cover layer is referred to as PrivateForests2016.  The Premiums data were extracted from the IFORIS database and refer only to private plantations.  This includes plantations that were in receipt of premium in 2005, when IFORIS went live.  All plantations with a spatial component in IFORIS were extracted and given attribute information.  The attribute information includes: planting year and species.  As the Premiums dataset contains only those plantations that were in receipt of premium when IFORIS went live in 2005, the earliest planting year available is 1989.

In 2008 the Forest Service compiled a spatial database of privately owned plantations afforested between 1980 and 1990 (WP2008).  The project was co-funded by the Forest Service and Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI). The project focused primarily on plantations established under the Western Package (WP) scheme, but also included the State Scheme (NPG), Farm Forestry Scheme (AH) and Planting Grant Scheme (PG) as these schemes were operational during the 1980-1990 period.  Due to the duration of the schemes, forest areas with planting years ranging from the 1960s (PG) up to the mid-1990s (WP) were included in the WP2008 spatial database.

The Premiums, FIPS98 and WP2008 forest estate data were combined to produce PrivateForests2016. Further information describing the data comprising PrivateForests2016 is contained in the metadata supplied with the associated spatial database (in ESRI shapefile format).

Data Availability 

The PrivateForests2016 dataset is currently available from the Forest Service. To apply for access to the dataset a Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Spatial Data Agreement (pdf 139Kb)  must be completed.  Complete and sign two copies of the data agreement form. Then send the forms to Ann Cunningham (, who will assess the data request. The forms can also be sent by post to Ann Cunningham at the Forest Service, Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, Johnstown Castle Estate, Co. Wexford, Y35 PN52.

Further Information 

For further technical information on forest cover dataset please contact:

Frank Barrett
Forest Service
Department of Agriculture, food and the Marine,
Johnstown Castle Estate
Co. Wexford
Y35 PN52.