The Wilderness concept, Native Woodlands and Ireland

How the concept might be applied with reference to the mission of Woodlands of Ireland

The Wilderness concept is currently very topical internationally and a number of stakeholders have asked how this might apply in Ireland. In 2017, Woodlands of Ireland was asked by Colm Massey, Chair, Solidarity Economy Association, if it was possible to outline how Wilderness would apply within the context of native woodlands in particular. The Steering Committee agreed to this and provided valuable input to this process with the Project Manager and produced the following document.


“In recent years the concept of ‘Rewilding’ has been raised by interested native woodland stakeholders and indeed, promoted by others in Ireland. Woodlands of Ireland (WoI) was asked to develop the concept within its own mission of advancing the appropriate, sustainable management and expansion of native woodlands in Ireland. The following outlines how Rewilding fits within the native woodland model, its definition and related definitions, and how the concept could be applied within the remit of Woodlands of Ireland. Other habitats and related species are not discussed in detail, however on a practical level the concept should be envisaged within a mosaic of other habitats. WoI since its inception in 1998 has been involved in key native woodland projects to advance the sustainable management and expansion of the native woodland resource.


WoI was instrumental in the development and implementation of the People’s Millennium Forests project (PMF) in partnership with Coillte (see and the project sponsors. It primarily involved the restoration of over 500 hectares of native woodland at fourteen sites in Ireland (including two in Northern Ireland) and was the largest environmental project of its kind at that time, i.e. 2000 to 2002, worth over €5m. Appreciable technical input has and is provided by WoI to the development and implementation of the Forest Service ‘Native Woodland Scheme’ (NWS) launched in 2001 (see WoI has also been involved in other native woodland-related projects such as the EU Kerry Life project on Freshwater Pearl Mussels (see and a recent proposal on creating native woodland on cutaway raised bogs.”


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