Upland Management Event
Cork Wildfire Co-operative Group (CWCG), in conjunction with Teagasc and the Forest Service (DAFM) organised an Upland Management Event on 22 November 2017 near Millstreet, Co Cork.
The nature, extent and frequency of land burning, and the habitats in which this activity occurs are contentious issues and impact on overall land productivity. Reconciling the differing objectives of farming, forestry, safety, conservation, public recreation and limited emergency resources requires a clear understanding of each of these objectives and respective perceptions.
The emphasis on the day was on best practice and a co-operative approach. A live demonstration of upland management techniques such as a tractor-mounted flail and controlled burning was of particular interest to landowners providing valuable feedback on what is feasible and practical.
The day began with an introduction by Eugene Curran, chairperson of the CWCG, on the background and goals of the co-operative group. There was a topical update on farm security by Diarmuid Cronin of Muntir na Tíre and Garda Sergeant Ian O’Callaghan. John Ballinger of Duhallow IRD RaptorLIFE project then gave a very interesting talk on upland ecology. This was followed by presentations from Anthony Dineen and John Casey of Teagasc, on upland management issues such as sustainable sheep and cattle grazing in hill areas and controlled burning as part of upland management.
Ciarán Nugent, Forest Service (DAFM), presented at a controlled burning demonstration highlighting the need to prepare a fire plan, how to prepare a site, the need for suitable weather conditions, how to prepare fire breaks and techniques to manage and control a fire.
Information stands at the event provided opportunities for attendees to talk to private and state bodies, ranging from FBD and farming organisations to the Fire Service.
Since 2011, the Cork Wildfire Co-operative Group (CWCG) has organised localised prescribed burning training and demonstrations and have conducted bi-annual media campaigns using local papers, posters, radio and meetings as a way of reaching landowners and informing them of the inherent dangers, and the frameworks that all parties have to work within. Multi-agency fire training and awareness events have also been held in Kerry, Wicklow, Laois and Louth.
The CWCG, in conjunction with the Kerry Wildfire Interagency Group, have led discussions on how the burning of mountain vegetation can be done in a safe way while working within the legislative framework that currently exists. Group participants to date include the IFA, Teagasc, the Forest Service (DAFM), An Garda Síochána, Muintir na Tíre, local authorities, Cork Environmental Forum, Fire and Rescue Services, the NPWS and Coillte. There continues to be a very strong emphasis on cooperation between the landowners and state agencies as well as developing a shared understanding of the issues and opportunities to work together.