Back on the Map
Welcome to Back on the Map, the inventory of ancient and long-established woodland in Northern Ireland.
This exciting project in Northern Ireland was carried out by the Woodland Trust in order to create a record of ancient woodland for the very first time. Our most valuable wildlife habitat, ancient woodland, had been mapped in the rest of the UK on the ancient woodland inventories of England, Scotland and Wales, but in Northern Ireland no such record had ever been produced.
This ambitious research project provided a fascinating insight into Northern Ireland’s woodland heritage and puts some of our most valuable woods on the map, enabling their better protection in the future.
Aim and findings
The initial aim was to identify areas that have been continuously wooded since at least 1600, and which could therefore be classified as ancient. However, since there is so little woodland remaining in Northern Ireland that can definitively be proven ancient, the project also recorded all woodland that was at least ‘long-established’ – continuously present since the first accurate, comprehensive mapping of the province by the Ordnance Survey in the 1830s.
Using the 1830s Ordnance Survey as a baseline to identify candidate woods, the project team then compared this with maps up to the present date to see which woods were still in existence, and then consulted maps and documentary sources from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries to identify those that could be ancient. Field surveys were also carried out for all woods, and the resulting data analysed. Archive and field data were then used to make a judgement as to the correct classification for each wood.
The project found that:
- Woods that could be classified with any degree of certainty as ancient were many times scarcer in Northern Ireland than in the rest of the UK, covering only 0.04 per cent of Northern Ireland's land area
- More than one-eighth of ancient and long-established woodland has been cleared in the last 40 years
- Around a third of ancient woods have been replanted with conifers, or a mixture of conifers and broadleaves
Map and survey data
Take a look at our interactive map to see the areas of ancient woodland across the country. If you would like to request a copy of the survey information, please email our GIS team who will help you with your enquiry.
How you can help
Northern Ireland now has an inventory of ancient and long-established woodland, but there is still plenty to do.
Please tell us if you hear about ancient or long-established woods that are under threat so we can help to protect them.
We'd also like to hear from you if you have further historical or survey information about a wood on the inventory, or if you know of a wood that you think may be ancient or long-established that could be added. Please contact us with this information, or if you want any more information about old woods in Northern Ireland.