Press Release by The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT)
The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) have released a statement today, Wednesday 1st March, on the prohibition of slash & burn activities which comes into effect today. The IWT have stated that they would like to remind all Irish landowners that as of today, it is prohibited under the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 to carry out any type of slash & burn actions on the island until August 31st 2017.
The IWT Campaign Officer, Pádraic Fogarty gave a stated that:
“The idea of extending the permitted burning dates is a joke considering that nearly all fires are illegal in any case. We need policies that can promote environmental protection in hand with upland farming and which bring an end to the annual bonfire of our hills.”
The IWT, along with Birdwatch Ireland, An Taisce and the Hedge-Laying Association of Ireland have been encouraging activists, ecologists and the general public to sign their petition over the last few months with the aim of gaining 30,000 signatures to present to Minister Heather Humphreys TD.
About the Petition
There have been proposals to extend the already permitted dates for legal burning in a Heritage Bill which is to be presented by Minister Heather Humphreys to the Irish Seanad this week. The IWT have stated that this is:
“an assault on our natural heritage and will do nothing to help farmers in upland areas.”
The petition will be presented to the Minister in an important attempt to prevent the proposal to change the Wildlife Act to allow for burning of vegetation in March and the cutting of hedgerows in August. By discarding this proposal it can allow for the establishment of proper hedgerow habitats and upland management methods that can work for farmers, road safety and biodiversity in Ireland.
There are currently over 26,300 signatures on this petition to date.
Why is this important?
In 2016, the IWT recorded 27 wild fires between the end of March to August. 15 out of the 27 wild fires recorded were in areas designated for wildlife conservation and protection. It was reported that ALL of these wild fires were in fact ILLEGAL based on evidence presented by the National Parks and Wildlife Services.
This is a crucial season for many avian species as it is their breeding and nesting season during this timeframe. Many endangered and threatened Irish species take up residence in hedgerows and peatlands where most of this disturbance and destruction occurs as a result of slash & burn activities and hedgerow cutting. These include species such as the Red-Listed Yellowhammer, Linnet and Greenfinch species, in addition to crucial pollinator species.
Upland breeding bird species are currently experiencing horrendous rates of decline with a large amount of these species now of critical Conservation Concern, some of which include the Red-Listed Curlew, which is currently at a very worrying risk of extinction after experiencing a decline of over 80% of their Irish populations since the 1980s.
If you are interested in more information or feel obligated to sign the petition, follow the link here to see the website.