Trust urging public to help chart wildfires
Campaigners are charting wildfires this year over fears they threaten to wipe out entire wildlife species.
National conservation charity the Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) says it is setting up a database of countryside blazes because no official figures exist.
Padraic Fogarty, campaign officer with the organisation, is urging people to get in contact if they spot a fire.
"Last year seemed like a particularly bad year for wildfires with many of our upland areas and national parks badly damaged," he said.
"However we don't have the figures to say how bad it really was."
The IWT says illegal wildfires around the country are driving some wildlife species to extinction.
They are particularly concerned at outbreaks during the bird nesting season, which they say destroy local wildlife habitats as well as causing air and water pollution.
"This year, so far, there seem to have been fewer, perhaps due to the weather," said Mr Fogarty.
"Collecting data on where and when fires are occurring will help us to monitor the impact of fires into the future."
The IWT is urging people who spot wildfires to send in details of where and when they are happening by email to firstname.lastname@example.org along with any photos or videos.
The records will be used to monitor the extent and duration of fires and allow the conservationists to analyse their impact.
Separately, more than 17,000 people have already signed a petition calling on the Government to bin legislation extending the period of time in which vegetation can be cut and burned by farmers and landowners.
Farming organisations want the hedge-cutting and upland burning season extended to allow for greater flexibility.
But the IWT, along with Birdwatch Ireland, An Taisce and the Hedge Laying Association of Ireland, says extending the season will have a serious impact on wildlife species and habitats.