Thursday, 29 March 2012
The Irish Forestry and Forest Products Association (IFFPA) today called on all landowners and rural communities to come together to prevent destructive and, sometimes, deadly land fires. A number of significant fires this week in Kerry and the north-west demonstrate that wild fires continue to cause major damage to lands and forestry, which has serious environmental and financial consequences. IFFPA asks that all community members be vigilant in relation to this and if necessary to call the local fire authorities or the Gardaí. Under the law there should be no burning of vegetation at this time of year.
IFFPA Director Marian Byron said: "3,000 hectares of forestry was lost over the last two years and it is vital that there is no repeat. At a time when our national planting levels are down to 7,500 hectares per annum, such losses are a terrible blow to the 12,000 people who rely on forestry and its related industry for employment.
"This is no longer a local matter, it is of significant national importance. Wild fires over the past decade have resulted in a number of deaths, have destroyed homes and valuable natural habitat, have put the lives of fire fighters and volunteers at risk and one incident in Kerry in 2010 saw a local community hospital put on evacuation alert. Land fires frequently destroy important habitat and valuable peat lands. In some cases the damage is irreversible. Even tourism is affected as blackened landscapes deter much needed tourism and damage Ireland’s reputation as a green country."
The Irish forestry and forest products sector generates approximately €1.89 billion in annual output which accounts for over 1% of Irish GDP and employs over 12,000 people nationwide.