Farmers must burn their lands or lose EU grants
Farmers claim in a debate with environmentalists that they must burn their lands or lose grants that require them to maintain their farmlands for grazing animals. They also blame the Government for requiring them since 2000 to burn before March 1 rather than the April 15, claiming that wet conditions have meant a build up of wildfire fuel is now a 'tragedy waiting to happen'.
Farmers forced to burn
As wildfires across the west of Ireland consume more than 1,500 acres of forestry and cost more than €2 million in April alone, farmers are claiming that they are forced to burn their lands to keep them accessible to livestock or the areas will be excluded from support payment.
In a radio debate with the environmental group Friends of the Irish Environment, the IFA claimed that farmers have always burned scrub but that recent abandonment of the countryside has allowed wildfire fuel to build up, resulting in devastating conflagrations. These threaten homes, firefighters, and wildlife as well as leading to severe soil erosion.
The IFA is also blaming the change in the date until which burning was permitted. Burning was allowed until 15 April but in 2000 the date was brought back to March 1 to protect wildlife. The IFA claims that burning is the ‘most effective and efficient management tool’ and that the land is too wet to successfully burn at the earlier date.
The IFA claimed in the debate that the new policy is making a ‘tragedy ready to happen’.
FIE has appealed to the Forest Service to intervene and allow area aid payments to be transferred to a Forestry Scrub/Transitional Woodland Scheme which would support the regeneration of our woodlands at no extra cost to the exchequer.