Geoscience was worth €3.28 billion last year to the Irish economy, according to a new report on the sector.

A 'Sectoral Economic Review of the Irish Geoscience Sector' by Indecon International Economic Consultants also shows nearly 25,000 people were working in the area in the country.

This includes 5,110 directly employed people, with a further 9,628 indirect and induced employment in  geotourism and geoheritage, groundwater, extractive industries, geoscience research, and geohazards.

These numbers are working their way back to pre-crash levels in 2006.

Minister for Natural Resources Sean Kyne, who launched the report, said it "gives us firm figures on the value of the geoscience sector to Ireland.

"It is a sector that may be sometimes overlooked and yet is clearly very significant. In terms of employment, it is worth noting that these are generally high-end professional jobs and that much of the activity, being linked to geotourism and natural resources, is located throughout the country and not concentrated in our cities."

Director of Geological Survey Ireland (GSI) Koen Verbruggen said the report will be "vital in planning a new strategy for GSI.

"The figures show a healthy economic recovery in the geoscience sector, but also a significant growth in areas such as geotourism and research, and the need to plan and prepare for natural hazards such as have occurred lately with flooding and landslides."

Data from the Central Statistics Office as well as from other sources was used to compile the report.