Once well forested, Ireland was stripped of timber in the 17th and 18th centuries by absentee landlords, who made no attempt to reforest the denuded land, and later by the steady conversion of natural forest into farms and grazing lands. In an effort to restore part of the woodland areas, a state forestry program was inaugurated in 1903; since then, over 350,000 ha (865,000 acres) have been planted. More than half the planting is carried out in the western counties. In 2000, about 9.6% of Ireland was forested; about 95% of the trees planted are coniferous. The aim of the forestry program is to eliminate a large part of timber imports—a major drain on the balance of payments—and to produce a surplus of natural and processed timber for export. Roundwood removals totaled 2.67 million cu m (94 million cu ft) in 2000.