Farmers advised to be vigilant as risk of forest fire increases with drier weather

Farmers are being reminded by the Department of Agriculture that an inherent risk of fire exists during spring months on certain types of land, particularly in upland areas.

It is reminding the public that a number of major wildfires have occurred in recent years which destroyed or damaged property, including farmland and forests.

Following dry weather patterns, the Department is advising that a wildfire risk can quickly develop in all areas where flammable vegetation such as grasses, gorse and heather are present, especially in proximity to forests and other assets.

Land owners, rural dwellers and other land users are asked to maintain a high degree of vigilance regarding fire over the coming months.

The Department is urging all forest owners and forest managers to check their fire plans and to ensure that fire-breaks are clear of flammable vegetation and forest access routes are clear of obstructions.

Land owners are reminded that it is illegal, under the Wildlife Acts, to burn growing vegetation on uncultivated land between March 1 and August 31 and that persons engaged in such illegal activity are liable to prosecution.

The Department is also warning landowners that land found to have been burned during the specified closed season for burning would be considered automatically ineligible under the various support schemes.

It says that a variety of detection systems, including satellite based systems, were now in place to detect fire hotspots and trigger more detailed eligibility inspections where required.

Suspicious activity should be reported to the Gardaí and uncontrolled or unattended fires should be reported immediately to the Fire and Emergency Services, the Department advises.

It is reminding forest owners must be especially vigilant in protecting their investments.