The current dry spell has brought with is a host of wild fires across the country.
Since Friday the Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) says it has recorded 15 wild fires from counties Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Galway, Donegal, Louth and Mayo.
It says eight of these were in areas protected for nature conservation – all are illegal as setting fire to vegetation is prohibited between March 1and August 31 each year.
IWT Campaigns Officer, Pádraic Fogarty, says “every year we see the same wildlife wipe-out as hillsides and bogs get torched.
"It’s devastating not only for the natural environment but for the people who live in these areas as their livelihoods and property are put at risk.
"We need to see greater coordination between the Gardaí, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Department of Agriculture to clamp down on this illegal activity”.
Andrew Doyle, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture recently reminded farmers, forest owners, forest managers and the public of the need to be alert to the risk of wildfires over the coming months, and called for farmers, landowners and anyone enjoying the recreational opportunities of our countryside to behave responsibly and within the law with regard to lighting fires.
Minister Doyle noted that following dry weather patterns, a wildfire risk can quickly develop in all areas where flammable vegetation such as grasses, gorse and heather are present, and concluded by saying “the message is essentially the same each year – I ask land owners, rural dwellers and other land users to maintain a high degree of vigilance regarding fire over the coming months”.
Suspicious activity should be reported to the Gardaí and uncontrolled or unattended fires should be reported immediately to the Fire and Emergency Services.
He also reminded land owners that under the Wildlife Acts, it is illegal to burn growing vegetation on uncultivated land between March 1 and 31 August and that persons engaged in such illegal activity are liable to prosecution and could face fines, imprisonment and penalties to their farm payments.