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Teagasc advise caution in this burning season

Fire is a powerful but dangerous land management tool which needs to be used with skill and understanding if it is not to do more harm than good. This was the message to farmers at Teagasc Countryside Management events organised for farmers in Mayo, Waterford and Tipperary at the start of the burning season. In the right hands and with the right preparation fire can enable rapid and cost effective management of unwanted vegetation. Uncontrolled burning leads to the destruction of fragile habitats and can place lives and property at risk.

Speaking at the events, Catherine Keena, Teagasc Countryside Management Specialist explained the preferred method of control for upland vegetation is grazing at a sustainable stocking rate which does not result in overgrazing or undergrazing. Where vegetation had become too strong and mechanical cutting is not an option, controlled burning during the burning season may be warranted. It is illegal to light fires from 1 March to 31 August. A programme of burning on a number of small areas rather than one large area, giving a patchwork pattern can benefit grazing and wildlife such as grouse. Not more than 0.5 hectares should be burning at any one time.

Careful planning and consultation is needed. You must notify your local Fire Service and the Environment Section of your local County Council. If you intend burning within one mile of woodland you must notify the owner and your local garda station. Within designated areas such as Special Areas of Conservation or Natural Heritage Areas contact NPWS to check if permission is needed for your site.

Burning should only be carried out by persons with adequate training, knowledge and experience in managing safe, controlled burning operations. Farmers attending the course in Rathgormack, Co.Waterford which was held in conjunction with the Fire Service will receive a Fire Awareness Certificate from Coillte Training.

Contributors to a Teagasc Countryside Management Event on the Management of Hill and Uplands in the Comeragh Mountains were; Jim Ryan, Irish Beekeepers Association; Bernie Guest, Waterford County Council; Kevin Murray, Coillte Training; Ben Walsh and Tadhg O’Driscoll, South Tipperary Fire Service; Gordon Peppard and Michael White, Teagasc Tipperary; Kevin Power, Coillte Forest Manager and Catriona Foley, Teagasc Waterford.