Forest Fire Season

April 17, 2015

Forest Fire Season

FEL is urging forest owners and land owners to note that a Condition Orange – High Fire Risk alert has been issued for the following dates:

Warning Effective From 1200hrs 14/04/2015

Effective Period Expires 1200hrs 20/04/2015

As we enter peak season for forest fires, it is important for forest owners to take steps to protect their plantations. In 2011, over 16,000 ha of forests valued at €20 million were destroyed due to fires, resulting in massive losses of habits and forestry incomes for many owners.

Forest fires occur more frequently between March and July due to dry ground vegetation and lack of rain for long periods.  Forests surrounded by bog or located near mountain areas covered with heather or scrubs are highly susceptible to forest fires.

Forest fires are also caused by unlawful and inappropriate burning of growing vegetation. As per the Wildlife Act, 1976, it is illegal to burn growing vegetation on land not then cultivated between 1st March and 31st August in any year. Despite this restriction, many bogs are still set a light to burn off dead vegetation, causing danger to neighbouring forest plantations and farm-yards. Young plantations are at most risk but older plantations beside open mountains or bogs also face threats from fires.

Joe Codd, FEL’s Director of Sales, highlights the potential impact of a forest fire upon a forestry investment, stating that losses can include:

  • Your annual premiums
  • Your valuable timber crop
  • Your future income.

He also reminds plantation owners that under the reconstitution scheme, the Forest Service  no longer covers the cost of replanting after forest fires. Replanting a forest damaged by fire is expensive and can cost up to €4,500/ha to replant the plantation.

Plantation owners can take several steps to reduce the risks posed by forest fires. These include:

Fire Plan

A well-developed fire plan is invaluable when tackling a fire and can lessen the damage caused by a fire.  Elements should include:

  • A map of the plantation detailing where the high risk zones are
  • Measures undertaken to protect the forest in case of a fire
  • Access points and local water sources
  • Contact details for emergency services, your forest manager and neighbours
  • A checklist to check fire protection measures like firelines regularly
  • Landowners and the public can also help to prevent forest fires.

It is advisable to develop a fire plan in co-junction with neighbouring plantations and landowners to support successful fire prevention.

Fire Lines

A fire-line is a strip of bare line installed to stop the spread of fire. Fire-lines are usually around 4-6m wide with all growing surface vegetation removed. Regular maintenance of fire-lines is necessary to ensure they are kept clear from scrub and foliage in order for them to be effective.

Forest Insurance

If your forest is damaged by fire, you are responsible for replanting the land to protect your premiums.  Replanting a forest damaged by fire is very expensive and can cost you up to €4,500/ha to replant. Fortunately, forestry insurance will cover the loss of timber production and the cost of replanting your land.

Additionally, forest insurance should cover the cost of a Fire brigade call-out charge, which is often quite substantial.

Forest owners are also advised to check Met Eireann’s Fire Weather Index and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s Fire Management notifications regularly.  Any suspicious activities or illegal burning near forestry land should be reported to An Garda Síochána.

FEL specialises in forest fire protection and our services include:

  • A detailed fire risk assessment of your plantation
  • A fire-plan for your plantation
  • Installation and maintenance of fire protection measures such as fire lines
  • Forest insurance advice

For more information on fire protection please contact a member of our team on

1800 719 399 or email