The current permissive season for the burning and cutting of upland vegetation ends on February 28th. There is a perception among some that burning within the permissive season is ‘controlled’, while outside the season is ‘uncontrolled’. This is not the case. The unusually dry weather this week has seen a number of fires being lit around the uplands but in some cases these fires are not controlled and are damaging to the environment and a threat to public safety and property.
Controlled burning is primarily carried out to clear dense vegetation and regenerate fresh new vegetation for grazing livestock. As controlled burning is carried out on a small scale, and on a rotational basis, it results a mosaic of vegetation type and structure which in turn supports greater biodiversity. These are low intensity fires which do not damage the underlying soil structure. Controlled burning should always be followed with an appropriate grazing regime to reduce the need for future burns. Lighting a fire and walking away is not controlled and results in extensive environmentally damage.
In the past week participants in the new SUAS Project (Sustainable Uplands Agri-environment Scheme) have successfully carried out controlled burning activities. The area to be burnt was identified as part of a long term management plan which aims to improve the ecological condition of the site. Before the burns were carried out, advance notice was sent to the Fire Service, An Garda, the NPWS and surrounding landowners. During the controlled burning activities there were sufficient people involved to ensure that the fires did not get out of control and afterwards the Fire Service was informed that the fire had been fully extinguished. The activity was fully supervised by SUAS project manager Declan Byrne.
Wicklow Uplands Council continues to seek the implementation
of the Heritage Act 2018, which will allow for the controlled burning of
vegetation in March when conditions are not conducive in the preceding months. The
current dry spell is exceptional, as it is often the case that controlled
burning cannot be carried out effectively within the current permissive season.
Again we reiterate that we only support controlled burning and the best
management of upland habitats.
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