On Thursday 14 October, The CANN project along with partner agencies and Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) held a wildfire awareness event for key site users and landowners to increase awareness of how wildfires can be prevented, and how NIFRS responds to wildfire incidents, with the aim of driving down wildfires in the Cuilcagh Anierin Mountain, and the rest of Northern Ireland.
In the last three years, NIFRS has attended 6,300 wildfires across Northern Ireland. Dealing with wildfires unnecessarily draws NIFRS resources away from where they are needed most, protecting our community.
In a bid to manage and respond to wildfires, NIFRS Enniskillen District has been working with The CANN Project along with the Pau Costa Foundation, PSNI and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council to develop a wildfire management and response plan for Cuilcagh Anierin Mountain, County Fermanagh.
“Not only is there a huge environmental cost in terms of loss biodiversity and increased atmospheric carbon, but wildfires unnecessarily tie up fire services’ time and resources. Therefore, the purpose of this event was to show the multi-agency response and management of wildfires before, during and after incidents, and generate awareness of the impact of wildfires on habitats, species, carbon and farming in these upland areas,” said Podge McKeon, district commander NIFRS.
The CANN project’s focus is on preventing fires through changes in land management. In a hierarchy, the best solutions are re-wetting the peatlands and working with farmers to graze animals, next, ecologists would move to management of fuel load through cutting and lastly the use of prescribed burns. In this event, the safe use of slow, shallow, cool burns were demonstrated.
“Wildfire planning creates a really useful tool to help focus habitat management in places where small changes can have a big impact. The partnership approach demonstrated in events like this is vital for the long-term health of our peatlands. Over 60 people from both sides of the border attended this event and the links made will be invaluable in managing the land to prevent fire as well as fighting such fires as do occur”. said Simon Gray, Senior technical officer with CANN partners Ulster Wildlife