Public reminder of the dangers posed by wildfires and increased risk during hot spell

The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is today issuing a reminder to the public, particularly to land-owners, of the dangers posed by wildfires and their impact on wildlife, forestry and communities.

It is an offence under the Wildlife Acts to burn growing vegetation between March 1st and August 31st.  Over recent years, many rural and remote communities are hugely impacted by wildfires, which can cause significant environmental and economic damage.

The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD, said

“I would like to take this opportunity to encourage members of the public, (including landowners, farmers and recreational users of publicly accessible land), to act responsibly at all times, to be mindful of their own safety and the safety of others, to be mindful of the need to protect property, both publicly owned and privately owned and to appreciate the value of our natural heritage, particularly in our National Parks, Nature Reserves and designated sites.”

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), which is under the remit of the Department, has highlighted the detrimental effects of uncontrolled fires at this time of year.

Barry O’Donoghue of the NPWS said “Fires do not just happen in Ireland; they are caused deliberatly or inadvertently go out of control. This is a particular risk during hot and dry periods of weather like we are currently experiencing. Uncontrolled fires can have devastating impacts on habitats and species and ecosystems that may have taken decades or centuries to establish, but can be lost in minutes in a fire. Birds, mammals, frogs, insects and plants are regularly incinerated in such fires, and their habitat may be lost forever. In addition, inappropriate burning can have impacts on soils and water and land productivity. While burning can have a role to play in certain circumstances, this should only be done in accordance with a well designed and applied approach; and certainly not during the summer months. For example, burning of Gorse at this time of year will only serve to proliferate the gorse.

Dr. O’Donoghue also emphasised the importance of alerting the fire services immediately, adding “that if the Fire Service is not alerted in time, extra destruction will ensue and the fire might not be contained at all and more damage will be done to wildlife and property and larger fires consume more resources for our emergency services. People are often afraid to call the Fire Service for fear of being charged, but Fire Services do not charge for such call outs.”

Met Éireann has issued a status yellow high temperature warning for six counties in the west and south of the country with temperatures expected to reach 28 degrees in some parts of the State today.

The weather warning is in place for Mayo, Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork.

With the weather warning  in place, the public are being asked to remain vigilant and report any fires they see to the local fire brigade.

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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