Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Questions (44)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

44. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which he and his Department have had discussions with Coillte regarding the future use of Coillte land and forests here with particular reference to the need to ensure good forestry management and development and the retention of community and amenity based usage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29340/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Coillte Teoranta was established as a private commercial company under the Forestry Act 1988 and day-to-day operational matters, such as the management of the State’s forestry estate, are the responsibility of the company.

I am aware that Coillte, as part of its management of some 442,000 hectares of the national forest estate, plays a significant role in the provision of forest recreational opportunities for the general public, thereby continuing a long tradition of open access to state owned forests. This role includes the management of ten Forest Parks and over 150 recreation sites throughout Ireland. In this context, I have previously noted the importance of Donadea Forest Park as a recreational amenity in North Kildare. I am conscious that such recreational facilities are also very valuable resources as tourism attractions in the various regions.

I understand that, as the company’s statement of strategy ran until the end of 2012, the company and Board will be preparing a new draft statement of strategy, which, under the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies, will then be submitted to me. My Department and I will then have an opportunity to engage with the company in relation to their proposals for the future management of the State’s forestry estate.