State afforestation in Ireland was relatively low until the 1950s, but thereafter increased up to the year 2000, after which planting decreased to negligible levels. A critical factor in the lack of afforestation from 2000 onwards was the decision by the European Commission in 1999 that Coillte, the State's forestry body, was not entitled to receive annual forest premiums. As a result, Coillte reviewed its planting programmes and has not engaged in afforestation to any appreciable extent since.

However, the Climate Action Plan published by government in 2019 commits to afforestation programmes of an average of 8,000 ha per year in order to reach our forestry land-cover target of 18% by the second half of this century. This equates to planting 22 million trees annually over the next 20 years. These actions will also support achieving climate action targets through the reduction of emissions and the creation of carbon sinks and stores.

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