Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry and Wicklow TD, Andrew Doyle highlighted the importance of developing awareness around forest fire prevention at National Forest Fire training event in Avondale Co. Wicklow.
Minister Doyle said “Wildfires can quickly develop following dry weather patterns in all areas where flammable vegetation such as grasses, gorse and heather are present, especially in proximity to forests and other assets. This training event was very timely as we move into the summer months and I am pleased that Coillte has organised them, in conjunction with my own Department and with the Society of Irish Foresters.
“Dangerous gorse fires caused extensive damage to local wildlife, farmlands and forests in May 2017. Blazes such as these can have a devastating impact on farmers as their livelihoods and properties are put at risk. They also poise an enormous threat to Wicklow National Park and the many forests dotted around the county.
“It is illegal to burn any living vegetation between 1st March and 31st August each year under the Wildlife Act, 1976, as amended, as this is the bird nesting season. Individuals found in breach of this will be liable to prosecution by An Garda Síochána or by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.”
Minister of State Doyle also outlined the measures taken by his own Department to increase awareness of forest fire risk and added “Landowners should take note that there will be a greater focus on identifying those suspected of engaging in uncontrolled burning, through the use of on-farm inspections and also the assessment of available imagery, the outcome of which could result in penalties being imposed under the 2018 Schemes”.
The training days, being hosted by Coillte at various locations throughout the country (namely Millstreet Co. Cork, Avondale Co. Wicklow, Sligo and Woodford Co. Galway) are part of a greater Fire Readiness improvement plan being rolled out by Coillte.