24 hectares damaged in forest fires
NEW COILLTE FIGURES SHOW DRAMATIC INCREASE IN FIRE INCIDENTS
TWENTY FOUR hectares of Coillte land in Wicklow were damaged during ten forest fires last year.
The figures compiled by Coillte show a dramatic increase in the number of land and forest fires in Ireland with a total of 547 fires recorded on Coillte lands.
While some of these fires may have been started deliberately, many spread from fires started on privately owned lands which adjoin forests.
According to figures supplied by Coillte, over 780 hectares of Coillte forestry were destroyed by fire in 2010, costing in the region of €3.5 million, including crop damage and related fire fighting costs.
Under certain circumstances, and based mainly on tradition, the burning of land to clear scrub and other unwanted vegetation has become an accepted practice. Members of the community should make themselves aware of the necessary precautions relating to controlled burning by contacting the local fire services and Gardaí.
In addition, local Gardaí can provide advice about the legal implications of failing to provide notification of burning and failing to take the necessary precautions to prevent a fire.
Speaking at the launch of an information campaign warning of the dangers of forest fires, Superintendent Fergus Healy said ‘gardaí want to emphasise the threat that land and forest fires present to people’s lives and prop- erty. It is the responsibility of every member of the community, particularly those living near wooded areas, to comply with the legislation and undertake burning in a controlled manner. In addition, members of the community should make themselves aware of the neces- sary precautions relating to controlled burning by contacting the local fire services for advice or visit Any person intending to burn within one mile of a wooded area must inform their local Garda station in writing, no less than seven days in advance. Anyone who undertakes burning in such an area without notifying An Garda Síochána is committing an offence.
‘We’re asking people to think of their neighbours and their neighbours’ property when they need to burn material. Safety should always come first. Informing Gardaí of your intention to burn is your obligation under the law and it’s your responsibility as a neighbour. Think and act responsibly at all times when considering controlled burning, particularly if it’s near a wooded area. If you see a fire, contact the emergency services immediately by calling 112 or 999.’
An Garda Síochána is one of a number of agencies, including Coillte and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, responsible for reducing the number of land and forest fires. As part of this multi-agency approach to tackling the issue of illegal burning, An Garda Síochána has appointed Garda Inspectors in each Garda division to liaise with other interested parties to prevent and detect land and forest fires.
Twenty-four hectares of Coillte forest was lost due to fires in Co. Wicklow last year.