Recent fires worst since 2011 – millions of euro of damage caused

Coillte confirmed today that recent forest fires around the country have resulted in hundreds of hectares of productive commercial forestry being destroyed.

These forest fires have also threatened the welfare of many homes and local communities, as well as causing devastation to vast areas of wildlife habitat. 

Commenting on the damage to Coillte’s forest estate, Gerard Murphy, Managing Director of Coillte Forest, said, “The recent spate of fires has been responsible for the worst damage to Coillte’s estate since 2011. The combined loss of productive timber, together with the cost of replanting the affected areas will result in a multimillion euro bill.”

“In addition to the damage caused to commercial forestry, these forest fires pose a significant risk to farmland, native woodland and areas designated for nature conservation.”

Recent dry and windy weather has greatly increased the risk of gorse and forestry fire, but deliberate fire setting has also been a significant factor in the cause of many of the fires on Coillte property around the country.

Coillte would like to remind people that, under the Wildlife Act, it is illegal to set fires to growing vegetation from 1st March to 31st August and appeals to anyone doing so to stop. Coillte greatly appreciates the tremendous assistance it has received from volunteers and the fire services, whose lives are put at significant risk in combating these forest fires.

With weather forecasters predicting the current dry conditions to continue for the rest of the week, Coillte are asking the public to be extra vigilant towards the dangers of wildfire and be mindful that responsible behaviour, including acting safely and responsibly in rural environments, can significantly reduce the chance of wildfire starting.

Coillte has a comprehensive fire and emergency plan in operation for every forest, which includes the construction of fire breaks, operation of fire patrols, communication with fire brigade services and provision of specialised equipment in high risk areas.