Ancient woodland refers to those woods that have had a continuous history of cover since before the period when planting and afforestation became common practice (mid‐1600s). These woodlands are important in terms of their biological and cultural value, and may even form links with prehistoric wildwoods. To date, unlike our European counterparts, no extensive study of ancient woodland has been conducted in the Republic of Ireland, leaving these irreplaceable habitats open to threats such as woodland clearance. This polygon shapefile constitutes the main output from the Ancient and long-established Woodland Inventory 2010.
A total of 481 woodland sites were digitised and the following categories were set up: – Possible ancient woodland (PAW) stands have been continuously wooded since 1660. – After additional research some PAW stands were upgraded to ancient woodland (AW) status. – Long‐established woodlands (LEW) have been continuously wooded since 1830. There are two sub‐categories, LEW (I) stands for which no evidence of antiquity could be found in older documentation, and LEW (II) stands for which there is evidence that the site is not ancient.
In addition, for each digitised polygon the stand type on the OS maps was determined. The categories used were semi‐natural broadleaf (SNB), mixed woodland (MW), conifer plantation (CP), non‐native broadleaf (NNB) and recent clearfell (RC).
This inventory is provisional in nature, investigating only a subset of Ireland’s woodland resource and available historical documents. However, it presents a working methodology to assist in the identification of these sites in Ireland. This study also promotes taking a multidisciplinary approach in the study of ancient woodlands.
A provisional inventory of ancient and long‐established woodland in Ireland