Farm Ireland

Friday 26 April 2019

Farmers responsible for bulk of gorse fires claims Coillte

Gorse fire in the Dublin Mountains Photo: Dublin Fire Brigade
Gorse fire in the Dublin Mountains Photo: Dublin Fire Brigade
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

The majority of gorse fires are caused by farmers, Coillte risk manager Mick Power has claimed.

Mr Power told the Farming Independent that the primary cause of gorse fires at this time of year is hill farmers burning dead vegetation illegally.

"We don't get natural wildfires like they do in other countries, 99pc are lit by farmers. Any opportunities farmers get to burn they do so regardless of regulations. This has to be taken more seriously," he said.

However, INHFA's Vincent Roddy said that these gorse fires are either lit accidentally or by a recreational user of the hills and that it's not accurate to blame farmers.

"It's very unfair to blame farmers for fires. Farmers are very nervous even to carry out prescribed burning, so to blame them is totally unfair," he said.


Mr Power accepted that farmers don't deliberately try to start forest fires, but he lighting of gorse at this time of year can lead to such events and can result in farmers being hit in the pocket.

"Coillte are not the only owners of forestry in the country any more. If you burn gorse and that spreads in to your neighbour's forest they will seek compensation from you. There has been cases going through the court where farmers have had to put their hands in their pockets," he said.

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Mr Power's comments follow a series of forest fires in Wicklow, Roscommon, Clare, and on the Galtee Mountains during the dry weather conditions of the May bank holiday weekend.

Last year gorse fires in Co Galway cost €4.5m in control measures and crop losses.

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