- Funding for five year strategic partnership designed to support communities and boost rural tourism
- Major investment across 260 recreational forests and 12 forest parks
- Some 3,000km of walking trails and cycleways to be improved under the initiative
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, has today (13th May 2022) announced €15 million in funding as part of a new five year strategic partnership with Coillte designed to boost rural tourism.
The funding will develop the outdoor recreation facilities that Coillte provides across its recreational sites.
Some 260 recreational forests and 12 forest parks will receive investment as part of the initiative, approved by Minister Humphreys today.
This will result in improvements being carried out to some 3,000 kilometres of walking trails and cycleways in a major boost to outdoor tourism and rural communities.
Announcing the funding, Minister Humphreys said:
“Our forest parks, walking and cycling trails and upland areas are what makes Rural Ireland stand out.
“Right across the country, people of all ages reap the benefits of these unique natural amenities on a daily basis. This €15 million partnership between the Department of Rural and Community Development and Coillte will further enhance our great outdoors – benefitting hundreds of thousands of people for years to come.
“As Minister, investing in our great outdoors has been a major priority of mine.
“We all know the benefits that our forest parks and outdoor trails provide in terms of both our physical and mental wellbeing.
“And so, I’m really pleased to approve this new partnership today – which I have no doubt will be so important in terms of attracting more visitors to rural Ireland.”
The Minister added:
“Coillte is Ireland’s largest forester and also Ireland's largest provider of outdoor recreation space. The Coillte estate includes 260 recreational forests, 12 forest parks, 3,000km of way-marked walking trails and six purpose-built world-class mountain biking facilities.
“Over the last two years we have seen a major increase in the number of people accessing outdoor recreation infrastructure. Coillte is uniquely placed to assist us in meeting that demand to ensure that people can continue to enjoy the unique advantages offered by the Irish countryside.”
Coillte recorded a significant increase in visitor numbers to its Forest Parks and recreation sites over the past two years, with a doubling of visitor numbers at some of its most popular sites. Today’s funding announcement will assist Coillte in upgrading facilities to meet the increased demand for access to these amenities.
In 2022 €3 million will be spent on projects throughout the country and include:
- Avondale, Co. Wicklow: Construct new multi-access trail and a family cycle trail at Avondale Forest Park - €100,000
- Donadea Forest Park, Co. Kildare: Final phase of works to entrance road and car park - €160,000
- Crough Wood, Co. Waterford: Reinforce unstable embankment and re-open trail - €80,000
- Deerkpark / Headford, Co. Cavan:Open new access point and install new car park to serve Deerpark forest - €200,000
The Minister continued:
“These works will include development of trails, cycleways, play areas, upgrading of car parking and toilet facilities to help manage the growing number of visitors. Coillte estimates that it welcomes in the region of 18 million recreation visitors annually. This funding represents a significant investment by the Government in the development of these assets which will benefit rural communities and visitors alike.
“This is one of a wide range of initiatives we are undertaking to develop our outdoor amenities and which will be central to the new National Outdoor Recreation Strategy that I will be launching later this year.”
Imelda Hurley, Chief Executive Officer, Coillte added:
“As the largest provider of outdoor recreation space in Ireland, Coillte has an important role in the provision of recreation forests, forest parks, waymarked walking and cycling trails, picnic sites and other facilities to support the growing demand for access to the outdoors.
“We are particularly keen to provide additional facilities at our recreation sites to support our visitor’s experience, such as food & beverage outlets, enhanced trails, waymarking and signage. By partnering with local businesses to provide services for visitors, we can increase local and rural economic activity and enable local employment.
“We are delighted to have ongoing support from Minister Heather Humphreys and the Department of Rural and Community Development. With their support, we can enhance and develop our recreational offering to cater for the significantly increased visitor numbers using Coillte’s forests each year.”
The Department of Rural and Community Development Press Office
01 7736843 / 087-1734633
Coillte is the largest provider of outdoor recreation in Ireland and provides significant outdoor recreation infrastructure across its properties. Coillte manages 260 recreation sites and thousands of individual forest properties throughout the country. Coillte also provides opportunities for businesses to operate from their facilities e.g. existing bike hire businesses at Ballyhoura (Limerick), Ticknock (Dublin) and Ballinastoe (Wicklow) and cafés in Ards, Donegal and Donadea, Kildare. This supports the local economy in these areas.
The Department has a strategic partnership in place with Coillte via a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU agrees to provide €3 million each year for the period 2022-2026 to Coillte to enhance recreational facilities on Coillte land and to support increased tourism and economic activity in rural areas.
This builds on the previous 5 year agreement which provided funding of €11 million over the period 2017-2021 and supported projects such as:
- Donadea Forest Park, Co Kildare: Significant upgrade to entrance and parking area, as well as the provision of toilet units - €345,000
- Devil's Glen, Co Wicklow: Replacement of three footbridges and full upgrade of access route into the car park - €94,500
- Castlefreke Forest, Co Cork: Full upgrade of the forest paths - €40,000
- Western Way, Co Galway: Major repair to the 2,700 metre boardwalk including a new trail layout: €80,000
- Rossmore Forest Park, Co Monaghan: Upgrade of Existing Toilet Block: €50,000
- Cong/Clonbur, Co Mayo: Full upgrade to 4kms of trails behind Cong Abbey; 700m new trail to access viewing point and 500m new trail to facilitate equestrian access to the forest: €35,000
Details of the €3 million strategic development funding being allocated to Coillte for 2022 are available here
Details of previous funding are provided in the annual reports produced by Coillte which are available on the Department’s website here