State-owned forests have become the go-to spot for outdoor recreational pursuits since the pandemic.
Coillte, the State’s forestry company, said the number of visitors to its recreational forests has exploded since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic last spring.
Some of the more popular forest destinations, including the Dublin Mountains, Rossmore Forest Park, in Co Monaghan, and the Donadea Forest Park, in Co Kildare, have seen a doubling or tripling of its visitor numbers since the start of the pandemic.
Using infra-red heat sensors to measure visitor traffic, Coillte estimates there were 2.2 million visits to its top 50 forests since March 2020, an increase of 38pc.
Popular forests, like Ticknock and Tibradden and the Hellfire Club in the Dublin Mountains have seen a large influx of visitors since Covid restrictions were introduced last February, with a doubling of visitors from 30,041 to 60,816 in December.
Rossmore has also seen a doubling of visitors from 10,399 in February 2020 to 24,713 in December, while the number of visitors to Donadea has tripled from just 4,773 a year ago to 14,335 in December.
The current 5km travel restrictions haven’t stopped people from venturing within their local areas to enjoy a walk in the woods, according to Coillte’s Head of Recreation, Daithi de Forge.
“By and large, we’re seeing because of the limited travel, everyone is looking for what’s local,” he told the Irish Independent.