The Irish Forestry and Forest Products Association (IFFPA), the Ibec group that represents the sector, today called on Government and the Gardaí to ensure that the rule of law in relation to fires is rigorously enforced to protect people, property and the environment. The group was responding to the recent spate of wildfires across the country.
IFFPA Director Mark McAuley said: “Farmers and private landowners, as well as Coillte, are being seriously impacted by the recent spate of wildfires across the country, now standing at more than 30. The fires are causing huge economic and environmental damage, and pose serious health and safety risks. Valuable resources are being destroyed, livelihood's threatened and important wildlife habitat decimated. A clear signal must be sent out that any activity that causes the outbreak of a wildfire will not be tolerated and the law will be enforced.”
Trevor McHugh of Veon, a leading forestry company and a member of IFFPA, said: "The lighting of wildfires is causing widespread devastation. It is illegal and must stop before an even bigger tragedy occurs. The fires that have already occurred must be thoroughly investigated. Thousands of jobs rely on Ireland's forestry sector and, beyond this, Ireland relies upon its rural environment for agriculture, tourism and recreational purposes. These fires are a threat to all of this.
"The largest group of private forest owners are members of the farming community. These dangerous fires are putting the safety and livelihood of these rural households on the line. No insurance can recover the economic value that is lost to forest owners through forest fires."