With the recent forest and gorse fire pandemic literally sweeping the nation, I felt it only right we talk about the subject.
As we informed you yesterday, Birdwatch Ireland released figures from between the years 2010-2015 stating that forest and gorse fires in the area have cost the country almost €6million.
Not only are these fires costing us money, they are also destorying most of Irelands beautiful habitat and wildlife. This also means our emergency services as busier than any other time of the year, leading to a lack of services available to the public.
It has been said by Michael Creed recently in a join statement with Minister for Arts, Heritage, regional, rurual and Gaeltacht affairs, Heather Humphreys, that sattelite data received has shown that up to 50 fires have been set illegally since April 21st.
With recent fires to Cloosh Valley, Castlerea and a house in Ballaghdereen being burnt to the ground, I feel now its time to take the taboo nature from round this subject.
I suspect we have all witnessed the starting of these fires in recent years, and the fact of the matter is they are carried out on the basis of pure and utter laziness.
These fires are started and encouraged in order to save some farmers time and effort when it comes to clearing their lands from rushes and unwanted bushes.
Its ironic that some of the people causing this destruction of our habitats are the ones receiving GLAS payments for its conservation.
I understand an extra effoprt has been made recently by the government to try and tackle the issue, with Minister for Argiculture (Michael Creed) saying recently that sattelite detection would lead to cross compliance penalties in cases of this illegal vegetation burning.
The above video, captured by Castlerea local Vera Parsons, shows the extent of destruction these fires can cause and in fact upon my first viewing of the clip i thought it resembled that of an erupting volcano.
The only difference being that volcanoes are a natural disaster where as this disaster is completely unnatural.
Its bad enough to burn rushes but what of the homes of local animals which ahve been destroyed? It was reported yesterday that Birds are the main species affected, with internationally protected species the Hen Harrier already having casaulties. It is unclear to what extent this has effected Irelands wildlife, but judging by the visible damage to be seen, it seems logical to suggest that it is not birds alone who's homes have been destroyed.
Ireland has many wondeful species of animals who now face having to relocate. This means animals/birds with young to feed face a real struggle to survive.
If the destruction of these animals homes wasn't enough, fires have spread so rapidly it has led to the destruction of a house in Mayo in recent days.
So the question remains is it worth risking the lives of our wonderful wildlife?And now the lives of our people?
I understand why people might be fearful of reporting a neighbour or local for the igniting of these flames, but I also believe the silence surrounding this subject is only offering encouragement.
With, as mentioned earlier, news of sattelite data being collected in order to prosecute offenders, one of Irelands rarest habitats will finally see some justice. Although this data will help immensely in the prevention of these fires, the reporting of these offenders by the public would stop these tarvesties a lot quicker.
In Ireland it is an offence under the Wildlife Act to burn vegetation between March and August. To me it seems the real offense is having any window open where burning vegetation is permitted.
Hopefully these recent fires can be controlled and stopped before any more damage is done. It might seem like its making life easier in the short term, but what about the long term future of our habitats and our rare boglands. If this trend was to continue Ireland would lose one of its most beautiful types of ecosystems which to me would be a great shame. Gone would be the days of footing turf, gone would be the many archaelogical discoveries made, and gone would be the beautiful florae and fauna on offer.
Conservation is the key word of this article, we need to protect our environment and stop protecting the petty, pathetic group of people who think this is acceptable.
For "peats" sake it only us who will lose out.
Special thanks to Vera Parsons for the video provided.
If anybody sees the intentional starting of these fires they are urged to contact The Irish Wildlife Trust and local emergency services.