24 hectares dam­aged in for­est fires

NEW COILLTE FIG­URES SHOW DRA­MATIC IN­CREASE IN FIRE IN­CI­DENTS

Bray People - - NEWS - ES­THER HAY­DEN

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.

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