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Farmers seeking one more month of burning gorse due to poor early start

March 17th, 2021 10:05 PM

By Southern Star Team

As a ban on gorse fires came into force on March 1st, the previous weekend saw some local fires blazing in a number of locations including in Beara, above. (Photo: Anne Marie Cronin)

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IFA NATIONAl hill farming chairman Flor McCarthy is calling on the Minister for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan to ensure managed burning of gorse is allowed to take place during March, due to the inclement wet weather in January and February.

Flor McCarthy said the extension by a month would be of vital importance to address better vegetative management, help farmers keep land eligible for various CAP schemes, and reduce uncontrolled wildfires.

‘We want to maintain farming in these areas, while respecting the ecological value of lands with gorse and certain types of grass species,’ he said. ‘Without farming, these areas would go wild and the incidence of wildfires would significantly increase.’

‘The Minister must take account of how farmers manage their hill land responsibly.  Where land is burned, it is done in a managed way.  Controlled gorse burning has not happened yet this year because there was no opportunity due to the wet weather,’ he added. Flexibility will allow hill famers to deal with the practical issues they face in managing their hill farms, Mr McCarthy continued. ‘Wildfires we have seen in the past can be avoided if the window for burning is extended to include the month of March.’

Cork County Council said last week that its fire service received nine notifications of controlled burning and attended eight wildfire incidents during the previous week.

The incidents attended were in the following locations: Schull; Mount Gabriel; Skibbereen; Toormore; Glengarriff; Castletownbere and Ballylickey.

Controlled burning was allowed under the Wildlife Act, but only until March 1st.

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