Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Conference on Forest Fires in Ireland

10th February 2012 - Conference on Forest Fires in Ireland, Irish Forestry and Forest Products Association (IFFPA)

Shane McEntee T.D. Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry announced the publication of A Code of Practice for Prescribed Burning for Ireland at a recent conference on Forest Fires in Ireland organised by the Irish Forestry and Forest Products Association. The guide was produced in order to provide guidance to landowners who use controlled burning as a land management tool. The conference aimed to bring together the parties and stakeholders affected by forest fires and those engaged in prevention, emergency assistance and follow-up activities resulting from fire outbreak.

Wicklow Uplands Council Co-ordinator, Cara Doyle attended the conference and reports below on some of the key findings.

In the twenty years prior to 2010, it is estimated that an average of 250-300 hectares of forest, both public and private was destroyed annually by fire. During 2010 and 2011 the total loss due to fire amounted to 1500ha and 1465ha per annum respectively. In 2011, 865 ha of Coillte forest and approximately 600 ha of private forest was destroyed. Most of these fire incidents happened over one weekend in May.

Arising from the level of uncontrolled fires in 2010 and requests from the private and public sector, a Land and Forest Fires Working Group was established. The remit of the group is to make recommendations to tackle the problem of illegal and uncontrolled burning. Priority recommendations made by the working group include; changing the mind set and production of the guidelines.

There is an obligation on forest owners in receipt of forest grants to maintain their plantations for up to twenty years. This means there is an obligation to replant where a forest is damaged by fire. In the absence of reconstitution grants there is an emphasis on the need for adequate insurance cover. Insurance covers the cost of the timber lost but not the opportunity cost of the timber nor obligatory replanting costs.

It is estimated that the Donegal fires in 2011 caused €2.5 million worth of damage. Around the same period forest fires across Coillte estates destroyed 985 ha of forest with an estimated cost of €5 million. Estimated costs include fire fighting, replanting trees and timber revenue foregone.

Full conference presentations are available on

Heritage Council Strategic Plan 2012-2016

1st March 2012 - Launch of the Heritage Council Strategic Plan 2012 – 2016

Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan launched the Heritage Council Strategic Plan on Thursday 1st March at Buswells Hotel, Dublin.

The launch of the plan comes at a time of uncertainty for the Heritage Council which is due for critical review by the Minister Department over the coming months. Nonetheless the support from Ireland’s heritage sector was overwhelmingly evident at the launch.

The plan focuses on developing the value of the heritage sector to employment, education and heritage based tourism. It outlines that every €1 million spent on grants by the Heritage Council supports 70 jobs and 300 jobs across a range of related sectors and can thereby make a significant contribution to the national recovery. Additionally research shows that in 2010, Heritage Council projects attracted approximately 18,700 tourists, while every €1 spent by the Heritage Council resulted in €4.10 for the Irish tourism industry.

Speaking at the launch the Minister Deenihan said ‘Today is both a celebration and recognition of the achievements of the heritage council, and an acknowledgement of its aspirations for the heritage sector in the years ahead. It is important that we recognise that the conservation, preservation and management of our national heritage, has economic as well as cultural benefits.’

Dr Conor Newman, Chairman of the Heritage Council added ‘Of utmost importance to the Heritage Council is that the significance of heritage in supporting jobs, as an educational resource and in maintaining the quality of our heritage tourism is fully recognised and realised.’

Download a copy of the Heritage Council Strategic Plan 2012-2016

Download Wicklow Uplands Council submission on the Draft Plan

National Landscape Strategy for Ireland

15th September 2011 - A National Landscape Strategy for Ireland

The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is in the process of preparing a National Landscape Strategy for Ireland. On 15th September 2011, Minister Jimmy Deenihan T.D. invited the public and interested parties to have their say on the Strategy Issues Paper. Minister Deenihan stated “the Strategy Issues Paper sets out Ireland’s aims and objectives with regard to landscape and sets it in the context of existing strategies, policies and objectives as well as the framework of the European Landscape Convention.”

The European Landscape Convention was adopted in 2000 as a new Council of Europe instrument with which to guide the management, planning and protection of all landscapes in Europe. Ireland has signed and ratified this Convention and the National Landscape Strategy for Ireland will be the vehicle used for complying with it.

The Minister went on to say, “the aim of a National Landscape Strategy will be to put in place a framework to achieve balance between the active management, forward-planning and protection of our internationally renowned landscape as a physical, economic and cultural asset. A core objective of a National Landscape Strategy is for the sustainable management of change affecting landscape and not the preservation or “freezing” of the landscape at a particular point in its continuing evolution.”

The closing date for submissions was 17th November 2011.

Download A National Landscape Strategy for Ireland – Strategy Issues Paper
View Wicklow Uplands Council’s submission on the Strategy Issues Paper