Forestry covers 11% of the land in Ireland and has been identified as one of the significant pressures on water quality in the county (EPA Water Quality Report in Ireland 2013-2018). Fisheries can be significantly impacted by forested lands within their catchments. These impacts can be negative or positive depending on the type of land, trees and management practices used.

Well selected forest sites which comply with the Forest Service Guidelines (including the Code of Best Forest Practice, Forestry and Water Quality Guidelines and Forest Biodiversity Guidelines) should not impact negatively on the aquatic habitat and fisheries. Many commercial forestry sites however were planted before these guidelines were published and these sites are often on land which is now considered unsuitable for forestry due to high altitude, steep slopes and peaty soils.

Such sites may be in the headwaters of fisheries catchments and have no established aquatic buffer zone in place to protect sensitive waters. These forests can result in excessive shadings of watercourses, changes to how water flows within catchments, acidification of waters, soil erosion and discharges of silt all of which can damage fish, fish food and the aquatic ecosystem.


Additional impacts can be caused by forest roads where watercourses are crossed in a way that causes a barrier to fish passage. There are also concerns over the use of pesticides and herbicide in commercial forestry which can have a significant impact on aquatic ecosystems and are highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates and fish.

We work with the Forest Service, Coillte and private foresters to mitigate the impacts of poorly selected forest sites, species and practices while supporting environmentally beneficial forests.

Forestry can be developed to greatly enhance fisheries and the wider environment such as those planted under the Native Woodland Scheme. Native trees increase insect production which can provide a food source for fish. Trees planted in small groups at random intervals along watercourses can provide the right amount of shade to protect fish from hot sunshine and over hanging vegetation as cover from predators. Riparian trees can also provide a buffer from the impacts of other land use practices. Forestry management practices such as Continues Cover Forestry also greatly reduce the negative impacts of forestry.