Coillte has estimated that the combined costs of loss of crops to fire and cleanup amounted to €1.3m in 2020.

The tally comes as Coillte urges the public not to light fires in the outdoors such as campfires and barbecues.

The public is reminded that it is an offence to deliberately burn vegetation between the first day of March and 31st day of August.

“Forest fires in Ireland are not caused by spontaneous combustion but instead are caused by unattended fires, or campfires that are not extinguished,” Coillte’s national estates risk manager Mick Power said.

“We have seen a doubling to tripling of visitors to some of Coillte’s most popular forests since lockdown began. An unextinguished barbecue, campfire or burning of lands can be the start of a large and unintended blaze.”

Work together

Meanwhile the Department of Agriculture has issued a status yellow forest fire warning nationwide from 1 March until 1 September which is the traditional fire outbreak season in Ireland.

With warmer and dryer spring weather, dead grasses, gorse and heather become much more flammable and fires can spread quickly from open lands to forests.

Almost 6,000 acres of forest land has been damaged by fire between 2016 and 2020.

“It’s very important individuals don’t approach forest fires and report them to the local fire service immediately. We’ve had over 580 fires in the past five years and we can bring this number right down if we all work together” Power concluded.