There will be increased patrols and aerial surveillance of national parks and reserves following a surge in fires that “don’t occur naturally,” Heritage Minister Malcolm Noonan said.
More than 300 hectares of natural habitat have been damaged and destroyed by illegal fires in Wicklow Mountains National Park in recent days, the minister said, adding the scene was “by no means unknown”.
Mr Noonan said the fires are being set intentionally and those who start them are “a scourge to society” with no regard for the health of local people, as well as the impact on regions and public spending of fighting such fires.
“We see her [illegal fires] every year, including in the state’s most prized natural assets – our national parks and wildlife sanctuaries – which bring such tremendous benefits to nature, society and the economy.
“We all remember the devastation caused by the large illegal fire in Killarney National Park last April.
“To be clear, these fires don’t happen naturally. They are set intentionally without regard to the far-reaching impacts on the health and well-being of local people, private property, tourism, emergency services, the defense forces and even the public sector.
“Not to mention the priceless wildlife and habitat being brutally scorched and the resulting impact of soil mobilization and siltation on streams, rivers and lakes,” Mr Noonan said.
The threat of man-made fire is now a regular feature of our year, the minister said, adding: “As night follows day, these fires will be started at the first prolonged dry spell.”
These fires will be illegal as of March 1 and are “invariably” spiraling out of control, Mr Noonan said.
“The people who put them up, and I believe they are well known in their communities, are a scourge of society and their activities cost us all. This mentality has to change.
“People breaking the law in this way should be aware that aerial surveillance operations using drones and helicopters have been stepped up to aid in early detection and deterrence. In addition, the National Parks and Wildlife Service maintains increased ground patrols in all national parks and reserves during periods of high fire danger.
“It’s clear we need to step up our approach to this all-too-common threat. Along with my fellow Ministers Darragh O’Brien and Minister Peter Burke, I will be working with Agriculture Secretary Charlie McConalogue TD and Environment Secretary Eamon Ryan TD to push ahead with a coordinated response as a matter of urgency,” Mr Noonan said.
https://www.independent.ie/news/these-fires-dont-occur-naturally-increased-patrols-after-300-hectares-of-wicklow-mountains-destroyed-in-fire-41508593.html ‘These fires don’t occur naturally’ – increased patrols after fire destroyed 300 acres of Wicklow Mountains