The IFA National Hill Farming Chairman Cáillin Conneely has called on the Heritage Minister Malcolm Noonan to ensure the managed burning of gorse is allowed in March.
At a meeting with the Minister, Cáillin Conneely said the extension by a month will bring a number of benefits. It will allow better vegetative management; help farmers keep land eligible for various CAP schemes; and reduce uncontrolled wildfires.
“We want to maintain farming in these areas and we fully respect the ecological value of lands with gorse and certain types of grass species. Without farming, these areas would go wild and the incidence of wildfires would significantly increase,” he said.
“The Minister must take account of how farmers manage their hill land responsibly. Where land is burned, it’s done in a managed way. Controlled burning will significantly reduce the possibility of uncontrolled fires in April and May like we have seen in the past”.
“Controlled gorse burning before the end of February can be difficult to achieve due to the wetter ground conditions. These conditions prove to be drier in March,” he said.
“Flexibility will allow hill famers to deal with the practical issues they face in managing their hill farms. Wildfires we have seen in the past can be avoided if the window is extended to include the month of March,” he said.