Tuesday 12 December 2017

Irish forests at 'risk of destruction' as gorse fires continue

Fire Brigade (Stock image)
Fire Brigade (Stock image)
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

Thousands of acres of Irish forests face destruction as gorse fires continue throughout the country.

Last night, a gorse fire in Co Galway at Cloosh Valley became out of control with fears the fire would reach the Galway Wind Park.

As temperatures drop, fire fighters hope the blaze will ease.

In Co Kerry, fire fighters were called to extinguish a gorse fire near Killarney.

Gorse fires also raged through Buncrana in Co Donegal last night.

Coilte said that the recent forest fires have caused millions of euro worth of damage and destroyed hectares of commercial property.

There has been gorse fires in counties including Cavan, Sligo and Donegal in recent weeks and Coilte said that huge areas of wildlife habitat have been wiped out.

They have also put local homes and communities at risk.

Coilte Forest's Managing Director Gerard Murphy said: "The recent spate of fires has been responsible for the worst damage to Coillte’s estate since 2011.

"The combined loss of productive timber, together with the cost of replanting the affected areas will result in a multimillion euro bill.

"In addition to the damage caused to commercial forestry, these forest fires pose a significant risk to farmland, native woodland and areas designated for nature conservation."

Coilte said in a statement that while dry and windy weather has increased the risk of gorse and forest fires, some of the recent blazes on Coilte property have been deliberately sparked by vandals.

They highlighted that under the Wildfire Act it's illegal to set fire to growing vegetation between March 1 and August 31 and urged anyone doing so to stop.

They also thanked the fire services and volunteers who have put their own lives at risk by combating these forest fires.

While the dry weather is et to continue for the rest of the week, Coilte is urging people to be aware of the risk of wildfire and to exercise caution.

For more information see www.coillte.ie

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