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Sunday, 24 January 2016

Stop the Slash and Burn

The mild and windy weather this winter has resulted in record rainfall. You can be sure however, that when a high pressure system finally settles over us, and there are a few bright, dry days, that there will be many a hill farmer setting off up the hills with a box of matches in hand.

Many visitors to Kerry will think of our hills and mountains as wild and untamed, but the truth is that centuries of burning and over-grazing in many areas has led to a denuded, biologically impoverished upland landscape. Just look for an intact stand of lush heather anywhere in the Kerry mountains and you'll soon see what damage is being done to biodiversity.

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, rather than protecting out natural heritage, is bowing to pressure from farming groups and has proposed changes to the Wildlife Act that will allow for the burning of vegetation in March and the cutting of hedgerows in August - extending the seasons of both into bird nesting seasons.

This is the aftermath of a huge wildfire on the Dingle Peninsula, set illegally in the third week of April 2015, long after the legal date of up to 1st March. The implications for nesting birds and other wildlife is obvious (M.O'Clery).

The Irish Wildlife Trust have an online petition to get this decision reversed. Take a moment, and add your voice. You just have to go to the page, and add your name and email address. You'll find it HERE.

Let's say enough is enough. Next dry day, when the Kerry hillsides are alight once more and the smoke plumes are stretching miles into the air, say that at least you added your name to a campaign to try to reign in the torching of our uplands.

More from BirdWatch Ireland - see HERE.