Joint campaign launched to stamp out forest fires
THE Garda and forestry companies have launched a joint campaign to prevent a repeat of last year's spate of wildfires which caused massive damage to plantations.
As part of the initiative Garda inspectors have been appointed across the country to prevent and detect forest fires.
More than 1,280ha of forestry were destroyed by wildfires last spring, with the total cost of the damage coming to almost €7m.
Plantations were damaged in western counties from Donegal to Kerry, while fires also caused serious losses in Wicklow and Carlow.
Landowners considering burning scrubland have been warned that the cold winter snap had resulted in "tinder-box" conditions.
The presence of large quantities of dead and dried out vegetation means fires could prove difficult to control and farmers have been told to exercise extreme caution.
It was pointed at the launch of the campaign that the burning of scrubland within one mile of forestry plantations was illegal unless prior written notice was given to the fire service and gardai.