July 25, 2021

‘Wicklow is an absolute disgrace’ – Wildlife conservationist hits out at destruction of habitats due to fires

‘Wicklow is an absolute disgrace’ – that’s the view of a leading wildlife conservationist who has hit out at people who light wildfires in the mountains.

Pádraic Fogarty, a spokesperson for Irish Wildlife Trust, has tracked the fires over several years and believes the area would be perfect to restore habitats and develop woodland.

But he believes that the destruction has been too great, meaning that species such as curlews have vanished from the landscape.

“The birds are long gone,” he told the Irish Times.

“We’ve got reports of all kinds of stuff going on because people think no one is watching (because of Covid-19),” says Fogarty, who is also the author of Whittled Away – Ireland’s Vanishing Nature.

“The big problem is that rangers are not really out and about,” he added. “They can only go out if a crime has been reported.”

“The repeated burning has greatly reduced the diversity of vegetation with knock-on impacts on invertebrates,” says Fogarty.

In previous decades, a wide variety of bird life existed in the area but this is now almost disappeared, with only a few species remaining.

“You see a lot of ravens because they eat the dead sheep,” he added.

The Irish Wildlife Trust wrote to farming bodies last months after the most recent fires, with suggestions on how to preserve special areas of conservation.

Fogarty  added that a rewilding plan over the next 20 years would transform the landscape in  a very short period of time.

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