IFA has called on the Minister for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan to ensure managed burning of gorse is allowed to take place in March due to the inclement wet weather in January and February.

“The extension by a month is of vital importance as it will address better vegetative management; help farmers keep land eligible for various CAP schemes; and reduce uncontrolled wildfires” IFA Countryside Chairman Brian Rushe said.

“We want to maintain farming in these areas, while respecting 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 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 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 for burning is extended to include the month of March,” he said.