Already this year a number of outbreaks have occurred in various parts of the country with a serious impact on the natural environment.
Over the last weekend in March, the Irish Wildlife Trust recorded 15 wild fires from counties Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Galway, Donegal, Louth and Mayo.
IWT campaigns officer, Pádraic Fogarty, said every year they see the same wildlife wipe-out as hillsides and bogs get torched.
“It’s devastating not only for the natural environment but for the people who live in these areas as their livelihoods and property are put at risk.
“We need to see greater co-ordination between the gardaí, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Department of Agriculture to clamp down on this illegal activity,” he said
Agriculture Minister of State, Andrew Doyle, has reminded land owners that it is illegal to burn growing vegetation on uncultivated land between March 1 and August 31. Persons found to be engaged in such illegal activity are liable to prosecution and could face fines, imprisonment and penalties to their farm payments.
He said an inherent risk of fire exists during spring months on certain types of land, particularly in upland areas.
Major wildfires in recent years destroyed or damaged property, including both farmland and forests. These directly endanger people’s homes and destroy valuable habitats as well as tourism resources.
“Furthermore, they place enormous strain on the emergency services and put the lives of rural dwellers and emergency service personnel at considerable risk,” he said.
Minister Doyle said that a wildfire risk can very quickly develop following dry weather in areas where flammable vegetation such as grasses, gorse and heather are present.
“The message is essentially the same each year — I ask land owners, rural dwellers and other land users to maintain a high degree of vigilance regarding fire over the coming months,” he said.