The following is an extract from Coillte’s South East Leinster BAU Draft Five Year Forest Plan, available on the Coillte website HERE.

Wild deer on Coillte’s estate is managed in accordance with accepted principles of Sustainable Deer Management (SDM) whereby, the conservation, control and use of the species will be balanced in order to achieve an integrated and collaborative solution to achieving viable deer populations across the Coillte estate at levels which are in harmony with their environment. To this end Coillte maintain Deer Management Plans (DMP) for all areas where deer are present.

Wild deer are present on over 60% of the Coillte estate. Through browsing and bark-stripping trees, deer can have a considerable negative impact on any tree crop and on tree species selection as well as the quality, yield and survival of forest crops. Deer can also impact land use objectives on neighbouring lands and can be a major health and safety hazard, particularly on public roads.

Deer are wild animals free to roam across large areas of multiple land ownerships. They are a protected species, and one which attracts considerable attention and differing views as to how they should be managed. A key aspect of successful deer management is establishing a collaborative approach between all key stakeholders within the deer’s range at landscape level. A considerable element of this process is the acceptance of shared responsibility by all landowners in the area of their role to ensure the effective management of the deer utilising their lands.

Coillte have demonstrated considerable commitment and leadership in recent years in developing collaborative deer management and the establishment of training standards for deer hunters. At National level the company was instrumental in the establishment of the Hunter Competence Assessment Programme (HCAP) and the Irish Deer Management Forum, a group which has been disbanded since the retirement of its Chairperson and which Coillte wish to re-instate (emphasis added). At Regional and local level Coillte are active participants in a number of deer management partnerships and groups.

The impacts to Coillte’s crops are generally localised, predominately in areas with high deer density. A breakdown of deer species abundance has been gathered countrywide coupled with damage inflicted on crops. Damage is mainly confined to the browsing of broadleaved trees and some more palatable conifers such as Scots pine, Douglas fir, larch and Norway spruce. Deer populations are principally controlled through the issue of hunting licences.

Deer management in Coillte is coordinated nationally through a new Deer Oversight Group which was established in 2020. This group is comprised of staff from Estates, Operations, Public Relations and Recreation.

Coillte’s summary deer management policy can be viewed HERE.

As part of planned work for 2021, Coillte’s Deer Oversight Group will review and update the current deer management policy and all supporting documentation.