By using this website, you consent to our use of cookies. For more information on cookies see our privacy policy page.

Text Size: a a
HomeA-Z IndexSubscribe/RSS Contact Us Twitter logo small white bird

Ministers' Information Centre

Contact Us

Minister Creed's address to Society of Irish Foresters, Millstreet, 23 February 2018

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank the Society of Irish Foresters for the opportunity to join you here in the beautiful Millstreet Country Park this morning. This is a perfect venue for today’s exercise and I hope that the weather will be on your side through the day.

It is becoming apparent that fire is an increasing threat to upland habitats and forest resources and I am very grateful for the active role the forestry sector plays in implementing new approaches to fire management and ensuring that this issue is addressed effectively. We must be ready for fire.

I understand that during today’s event you will see many different aspects of forest fire fighting, teamwork and the use of the latest technology to guide fire prevention and fire fighting efforts, and to keep those involved in these efforts safe while they are performing these duties.  

I welcome the involvement of the Raptor LIFE project in today’s event. Fire does not just affect forestry, and uncontrolled wildfires can also have a devastating effect on habitats and key conservation species, most notably Hen Harrier, Curlew and Grouse. While fire prevention is of the utmost importance, it is equally important that the fuel loads that lead to wildfire are avoided.  Above all, the land management and farming activity in upland areas needs to be sufficient and appropriate to reduce the vegetation fuel loads that make uncontrollable fires possible, and to ensure that habitats are maintained in the best condition for these species, and in balance with farming requirements. The role of projects such as Raptor LIFE and the new Hen Harrier Project in guiding this balance is to be welcomed.

We recognise the role the upland farming sector plays in our emerging fire regime. There is a tradition of fire use by farmers in our upland landscapes, and it is important to ensure that this tradition moves with the times, and adopts modern approaches to the safe use of fire. In this regard, I would appeal to the farming community to use fire responsibly, and work with Fire Services, Ecologists and other partners to reduce fire risks in high risk areas, and ensure that fire ignitions do not occur during high risk periods during the closed burning season.

Many of the new European Innovation Partnerships supported by my Department involve measures aimed at better defining and improving the role of vegetation management in several upland areas around Ireland. These projects are aimed at improving the future viability of upland farming, and without viable farming activity, risks of wildfire in future can be expected to increase. 

I would like to acknowledge the role of the Cork Wildfire Cooperative and their work in defining local level approaches to fire prevention in Co. Cork. Local level partnerships of this type can put their finger on the pulse of local level fire issues quickly, and advise on the suitable measures to suit these local requirements. Good communications and partnership between stakeholders throughout the year prior to fire events pay dividends when fires do occur, and I am informed that there is already a marked difference in fire incidence in Cork, relative to other parts of the country. A problem shared is a problem halved, and I would encourage the establishment of these types of groups in all areas where wildfire is an annual problem.

Lastly, I want to acknowledge the efforts of Coillte Staff, and Fire Services during the difficult fire season we saw in 2017. People were tested to the limit at various incidents, including the fire at Gougane Barra, here in Cork. I would like to recognise the tireless efforts of Coillte Forestry staff, Private Forest Owners, Fire Services and Defence Forces during these incidents and to wish you all every success for a safe and hopefully quiet season ahead. 

Go Raibh Mile Maith Agat.