The highest risk period for forest fires occurs between February and June, when ground vegetation is dead and dry following winter. For this reason the danger can be extremely high even when it has rained recently. There are a number of steps, which could be taken to minimise the risk of forest fires, which are outlined on this page; as well as forest owners’ obligations and the procedure for reporting fire damage.
The highest risk period for forest fires occurs between February and June, when ground vegetation is dead and dry following winter. For this reason the danger can be extremely high even when it has rained recently. There are a number of steps, which could be taken to minimise the risk of forest fires:
DO NOT LIGHT FIRES IN OR NEAR WOODLAND
Take care with other potential sources of ignition.
CHECK FIRE BREAKS
It is the owners’ responsibility to ensure that Fire Breaks surrounding plantations are inspected annually prior to the fire season and maintained in an effective, vegetation free condition. Ideally Fire Breaks should be at least 6 metres wide.
INSURE YOUR CROP
All forest crops should be insured against losses by fire, which is one of the risks for which cover is available commercially. Forest owners are reminded that, with effect from 1st June 2009, the Reconstitution Scheme does not cover any fire or wind damage occurring after that date.
It is a legal offence to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated between 1st March and 31st August in any year.
Fire Plans should be developed for all plantations, including a map showing access and assembly points for fire fighting personnel and equipment and potential sources of water. The plan should also include contact details for the emergency services, relevant forest management organisations, neighbouring landowners and forest owners in order to summon help should the need arise. Have fire-fighting tools such as beaters and knapsack sprayers to hand and ready to use.
Forest owners should be particularly vigilant following prolonged dry spells. A period of 24 hours is sufficient to dry out dead moorland vegetation following rain, where windy conditions exist. Where dry conditions persist, experience suggests that forest owners should be particularly vigilant at weekends, and at evening times, when land burning is most likely to take place. If fire is detected, do not delay, summon help immediately and activate fire plan. Do not rely on others to call the Fire Service, and remember that a rapid response by the emergency services is essential if damage to property is to be minimised.
DISCUSS WITH NEIGHBOURS. Cooperation between neighbouring landowners is vital to successful fire prevention. Explain your concerns regarding fire risk to neighbouring landowners. Owners of adjoining and neighbouring plantations should develop joint fire plans and share responsibility for guarding against fire.
REPORT LOSSES. If a plantation is destroyed or damaged by fire, the incident should be reported to the nearest Garda Station and to the Forest Service. Your local forestry inspector, forest manager, consultant or Teagasc advisor can advise on reinstatement measures.
Information on Ash Dieback disease and other forest health risks.
Chalara ash dieback disease is a relatively new serious disease of ash caused by fungal pathogen Chalara fraxinea. It has spread rapidly across much of Europe, with the majority of European countries where ash is present now reporting dieback. The organism has relatively recently been identified, but its origin remains uncertain and its biology is not yet fully understood. The disease is only known to be present in Europe.
Common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) is susceptible to Chalara ash dieback disease as are a number of other species of ash. The disease can affect ash trees of any age and in any setting. Deaths can occur with younger trees (less than 10 years old) suffering mortality more rapidly, while the infection can be chronic in older trees. The wide range of symptoms associated with Chalara ash dieback disease includes:
The wide range of symptoms associated with Chalara ash dieback disease includes:
- Necrotic lesions and cankers along the bark of branches or main stem
- Foliage wilt
- Foliage discolouration (brown / black discolouration at the base and midrib of leaves)
- Dieback of shoots, twigs or main stem resulting in crown dieback
- Epicormic branching or excessive side shoots along the main stem
- Brown / orange discolouration of bark
Note: The symptoms described above are not exclusive to Chalara fraxinea and may be attributable to a number of other causal agents or factors, e.g. frost.
- Reconstitution of Woodlands (Chalara Fraxinea) Scheme March 2013
- All Ireland Control Strategy July 2013
- Symptoms to look out for
Forest and land owners are asked to be vigilant for the disease and to report (with photographs, if possible) any sites where they have concerns about unusual ill health in ash, to the Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine: by email ([email protected]); or, by phone (01-607 2651).
Please do not remove any plant material from a site containing suspect trees.