Goats return to Dublin to fight fires

In Dublin, city planners hired goats to control weeds on the Howth’s Head peninsula. This creative initiative, which started last year after a fire occurred in the area, goes beyond protecting Ireland’s capital city.

Indeed, the Old Irish Goat is a critically endangered species that used to graze in these hills and handle the upkeep over a century ago. However, cross-breeding with imported species reduced their original population dramatically. As a result, this species only survived thanks to the Old Irish Goat Society, an organization dedicated to conserving these goats and keeping their DNA free from domestic goat genetics.

The organization happily provided 25 of their goats to this firefighting reintroduction project, which will combine traditional herding methods with new technology (e.g. GPS tracking). The goal is to progressively add new males to grow the herd’s headcount to 100.

Why does it matter? Wildfires have become increasingly frequent with the decline of traditional grazing, even in the wet Irish climate. In recent years, global warming has further reinforced this phenomenon. Besides managing fire risk, this project will enhance the biodiversity of the heathland habitat.

The Old Irish Goat can control the accumulation of gorse and feed on harsh environments with low nutritive quality heathlands. Thus, they offer an economical and sustainable solution to managing the landscape.

(source: oldirishgoat.ie)