Minister issues forest fire warning

Ministerissues forest fire warning

8 March 2006

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Every spring several hundred hectares of forests and woodland are destroyed by fire. This year there have already been a number of outbreaks due to the dry weather.

Forestry Minister Mary Wallace reminded forest owners and the public in general that there is a real and immediate risk. Fire poses a serious financial threat to forest owners in vulnerable areas, she said.

Forest owners have a duty to make themselves aware of these threats and take appropriate actions to secure the safety of their forest investments, she added.

However, the minister also reminded all landowners that it is an offence under the Wildlife Act to burn vegetation between March 1 and August 31 of any year.

She said if this simple rule was adhered to, many costly and dangerous forest fires would be avoided.

Ms Wallace said the highest risk period occurs between February and June, when ground vegetation is dead and dry following winter.

The areas at highest risk from wildfire tend to be located adjacent to, or within moorland areas.

Prolonged dry periods and seasonal high winds in spring help create ideal conditions for wildfire to spread quickly through highly flammable moorland vegetation.

Forest owners can reduce the risk of fire damage to plantations by ensuring that fires are not lit in or near woodland, checking fire breaks and ensuring they are maintained in a an effective vegetation free condition and developing fire plans.


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