The Irish Wildlife Trust wants to express our opposition to the on-going burning of lands within the Wicklow Mountains National Park.
Given the poor state of upland habitats, plus the emissions of smoke, water pollution and greenhouse gases, we feel it is exactly the wrong thing to be doing. While controlled burning is preferable to the out-of-control variety, it is nevertheless extraordinarily harmful to be burning peatlands and represents a failure of land management. The website of the Wicklow Mountains National Park claims that a “primary purpose” of the park is the conservation of biodiversity but if this were the case we would see measures designed to restore the degraded landscapes, and not measures that seem designed primarily for the benefit of sheep grazing.
Currently, there is no formal assessment or survey of the habitats across the Wicklow Mountains, there is no management plan for the National Park while the park itself exists in name only, given that there is no legislation to define these areas. If biodiversity and climate were the aims, then a restoration plan would provide for the rewetting of peatlands and the re-establishment of native woodlands – both of which are not only biodiversity and carbon rich but are essential for preventing out-of-control fires.
IWT Campaign Officer, Pádraic Fogarty says: “Last week, the Oireachtas committee on Environment and Climate Action heard about our dreadful record of establishing new forests, and how this lack of foresight means we’ll have to set aside enormous areas of land for new forests in the decades to come as a carbon sink. So it’s quite incredible that this week our best carbon stores are being set on fire in an effort to prevent woodland emerging in a natural fashion”.
We would like to see all burning of land prohibited. We believe that the Irish people, who are the owners of our National Parks, should expect that these areas are managed to the highest standards and for the benefit of nature. Currently, management falls well short of these expectations.