The Forestry Act 1988 provided among other things that all of the State’s forest estate, other than land designated by the Minister, stand vested in Coillte so such forested areas do not fall within my immediate remit. I am advised by Coillte that there were 142 fires on its estate during 2018 affecting 367 hectares of forest – with this figure excluding open land. I understand that Coillte has had a number of fires already this year and I have referred the Deputy’s question to Coillte requesting that a response issue to you within 10 days in relation to the number of significant wildfires in forested areas on its estate to date in 2019. The management of the forest estate, including damage assessment, is a matter for, and the responsibility of, Coillte as a commercial State Body.
As regards privately-owned forested areas planted with support from my Department, forest owners are requested to notify my Department as soon as possible if the forest is damaged or destroyed. My Department has accordingly been notified of two cases where damage has been caused, in 2018, to privately-owned grant-aided forestry plantations. Assessment of the damage and appropriate remedial action is a matter for the forest owner/scheme applicant and his or her registered forester.