Timber growers urged to insure woods against fire
Forestry owners are being advised to insure their valuable timber crops against potentially devastating fire damage in the coming months.
Even though the legal period for controlled burning of vegetation on uncultivated land closes on February 28, the risk of uncontrolled fires is too great to ignore, Teagasc forestry expert Steven Meyen has warned.
Uncontrolled fires caused more than €7.5m worth of damage to Irish forestry in spring last year, making 2011 one of the worst years on record for fire losses.
In the past two years, more than 1,300ha of private forestry and 1,500ha of Coillte forestry has been destroyed by fire.
However, last year was by far the worst, with almost 1,000ha of Coillte forestry lost and a further 600ha of private forests destroyed. The worst affected was Co Donegal, which accounted for around 60pc of the total.
One million cubic metres of timber will have to be imported, representing four months of production in Irish sawmills, the Irish Business and Employers Confereration estimates.
Despite the potentially ruinous cost of fire damage, the majority of private forests are not insured against fire.
Mr Meyen warned that the Reconstitution of Woodland Scheme no longer covers fire losses and urged forest owners to put private insurance in place.