Catchment News

Significant Pressures: Forestry

Forestry accounts for approximately 12% of land use in Ireland. Just under 50% of the total forest area is under public ownership, mainly managed by Coillte, and just over 50% is under private ownership1. Historically much of the afforestation carried out by the State has taken place on relatively undeveloped marginal land in upland areas, often on organic soils.

Forestry has been identified as the third most prevalent significant pressure, impacting approximately 12% of all surface waterbodies that are ‘At risk’ of not achieving their environmental objective under the Water Framework Directive (Table 1 and Figure 1). Waterbodies are categorised as being ‘At risk’ of not achieving their WFD objectives where the monitoring data shows evidence that water quality is impacted, and actions are required to deliver water quality improvements.

Forestry impacts a relatively high proportion of waterbodies with a High Ecological Status objective (22%) which are often upland vulnerable catchments in the headwaters of streams. These high-status headwaters are important ‘biodiversity reservoirs’ that play a role in restoration further downstream.

Impacts of forestry on water quality

Who is involved?

Quite simply, everyone in Ireland has a role to play. This can be from something as simple as making sure you don’t pollute your local stream, or a local community working together to establish a Rivers Trust to enhance the rivers and lakes in their area, to a Government Department or Agency helping a Minister implement a new policy to help protect and enhance all our water bodies.

This website has been developed and is maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency, and is a collaboration between the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Local Authority Waters Programme.


Local Authority Waters Programme

The Local Authority Waters Programme coordinates the efforts of local authorities and other public bodies in the implementation of the River Basin Management Plan, and supports local community and stakeholder involvement in managing our natural waters, for everyone’s benefit.


Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA is responsible for coordinating the monitoring, assessment and reporting on the status of our 4,842 water bodies, looking at trends and changes, determining which waterbodies are at risk and what could be causing this, and drafting environmental objectives for each.


Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage

The Department is responsible for making sure that the right policies, regulations and resources are in place to implement the Water Framework Directive, and developing a River Basin Management Plan and Programme of Measures to protect and restore our waters.