RPWHI - Restoring Priority Woodland Habitats in Ireland

LIFE05 NAT/IRL/000182

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Sean QUEALY
Tel: +353 57 8678516
Fax: +353 1 8427028
Email: sean.quealy@coillte.ie

Project description:


Four native woodland habitat types are found in Ireland - alluvial woodland, bog woodland, woodland associated with limestone pavement, and yew woodland. Such woodlands are restricted in their distribution, not just in Ireland, but also across the entire EU. Under Annex I of the Habitats Directive, these woodlands are given priority status for conservation. These woodlands are woods of extremely high nature conservation value and provide habitat, shelter and food to many native plant and animal species. In some cases, these species are now themselves extremely rare and rely on priority woodland habitats to survive. Ireland’s priority woodland habitats are threatened by issues such as: afforestation with exotic tree species; natural regeneration and spread of exotic species; trespass and damage caused by feral goat, livestock and deer; artificial drainage; and illegal dumping of domestic and commercial waste.


The LIFE project’s main objective focused on restoring 550.8 ha of alluvial woodland, yew woodland, bog woodland, and woodland with limestone pavement. The project covered nine Natura 2000 sites, owned and managed by the beneficiary, located in nine different counties across Ireland. The diversity, quantity and quality of the areas make them sites of considerable national and European significance.

The project aimed to improve the conservation status of the sites and to restore the natural vegetation, as far as possible. The principal protective and restorative actions of the project included removal of exotic species; planting of native and habitat specific species; and installation of fences, dams and dip wells.

On many of the sites, the presence of rare habitats was previously unknown and the project led to a significant increase in national coverage of managed priority woodland habitats. Three of the sites were LIFE Project Demonstration Sites, where project work primarily involved public awareness and education over the four-year period.

Other project goals aimed to encourage co-operation between NGOs and statutory bodies involved with protecting the Irish natural environment, making results available for a broad group of stakeholders. Long term management was anticipated to be carried out by the beneficiary as an ongoing activity.


The project achieved its objectives to restore 550.8ha of priority woodland habitats. Works involved removing non-native trees and invasive exotic shrubs as well as reinstating natural water regimes to promote natural regeneration of the habitat. Targeted areas are already beginning to show signs of recovery with a return to woodland habitat. The end of project monitoring indicates that the sites are generally improving although some locations are proving more responsive than others, based on existing ground conditions, and to some extent the surrounding vegetation.

The project exceeded its targets for removal of non-native conifers (by 202%) and removal of non-native broad-leaves (by 182%). Targets were achieved for removal of exotic invasive shrubs and only 60% of the expected fencing or boundary wall repair works were actually required.

This project excelled at dissemination, because not only are the links developed at the local and national level through the project likely to continue, but the project products and dissemination materials will continue to be distributed, mainly through the website, which continues to be a source of interesting and useful information. The beneficiary and other stakeholders recognise the importance of sustaining the project in order to ensure the future for priority woodlands in Ireland. As such the beneficiary has committed to delivering a robust but challenging AfterLife programme.

The project beneficiary, Coillte, has been awarded an Energy Globe Award in June 2010 for this LIFE project. Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Conservation Plan (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Forests


forest ecosystem‚  protected area‚  reforestation

Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...

Target Habitat types

  • 8240 - Limestone pavements
  • 91D0 - Bog woodland
  • 91E0 - "Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (Alno-Padion, Alnion incanae, Salicion albae)"
  • 91J0 - Taxus baccata woods of the British Isles

Natura 2000 sites

SCI IE0001774 Lough Carra/Mask Complex



Coordinator Coillte Teoranta - The Irish Forestry Board
Type of organisation Public enterprise
Description Coillte Teoranta is Ireland's public sector forestry agency with a remit covering the commercial management of state-owned forests.
Partners None


Project reference LIFE05 NAT/IRL/000182
Duration 01-JAN-2006 to 31-DEC -2009
Total budget 2,595,148.00 €
EU contribution 1,304,861.00 €
Project location Donegal(Ireland) Border(Ireland)


Read more:

Leaflet "Clonbur: A Natural Heritage" (975KB)
Project web site Project's website
Publication: After-LIFE Conservation Plan After-LIFE Conservation Plan
Publication: Layman report Layman report
Publication: Technical report Project's Final Technical Report
Video link "Coillte - Restoring priority woodland in Ireland" (31')


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version