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Thread: Wildfires and Moorland Management

  1. #1

    Wildfires and Moorland Management

    From the Countryside Alliance E-News briefing:
    Wildfires and Moorland Management

    The devastating fire that took place on Howden Moor in the Peak District National Park, which destroyed over 200 acres of heather moorland at the beginning of this week, is a reminder of the considerable damage to wildlife and the environment that can result from careless behaviour, and tried and tested management practices being ignored by a few land managers.

    The fire, which it is believed was started by a portable BBQ, was attended by 10 fire crews, whose vehicles were unable to get anywhere near the scene, the only fire fighting vehicles to successfully do so being those belonging to the shooting tenant of Howden, and those from the neighbouring moors that are managed for grouse shooting.

    After the fire services left at dusk with the fire still burning, it was the Peak Districtís gamekeepers that remained overnight to keep the fire under control. Had they not done so then, according to one expert on the ground, some 8,000 acres of heather moorland could have been destroyed. It was those same gamekeepers who also managed to save a known hen harrier nesting site that had been used since 2003, from being destroyed by the fire.

    The controlled, cool, burning of heather, creating fire-breaks, and maintaining tracks to allow access onto moorland can all help in the prevention and control of wildfires, and they are common management practices that are carried out by responsible land managers, especially in areas where cutting of heather is an impossible alternative. Whilst the damage might not have been prevented, it might certainly have been further contained had the tenant been allowed to do so on Howden.

    One thing is certain, without the gamekeepers and privately owned specialist fire-fighting equipment, we could have been looking at nothing short of an ecological disaster.

    Tim Bonner
    Chief Executive
    Follow on Twitter @CA_TimB

  2. #2
    A well written article. Be nice if it got some real publicity in mainstream papers etc

    The keepers are the boys with the real knowledge and experience with burning heather and even reading the ground and travelling over it (no offence intended to fire services, but just won't deal with it very often) and nowadys most moors will be using misters and foggers to control their conrol burns

    Even in countries like Australia where forest wildfires can be a big problem in the old days locals would have regular controled fires to burn up fuel/dead trees etc, so if a real fire ever takes hold will not be as fierce as doesnae have the fuel. Doesn't really happen now.

  3. #3
    Speaking as a retired fireman who has attended hundreds of grass and forestry fires, that's what they were called before they were renamed the sexier term wildfires, I can confirm that generally the fire service have been next to bloody useless in dealing with such fires. I couldn't possibly calculate the thousands of hard worked manhours that have been wasted, or the amount of kit that has been lost or sustained severe damage dealing with these fires over the years. On occasions it's been totally embarrassing the way the service dealt with such incidents year after year but still refusing to adopt appropriate tactics and equipment.

    Fortunately in some areas they started to address the serious issue of wildfires a few years ago by implementing the correct training/tactics and purchasing suitable equipment when budgets allowed. They also started to address the root causes of such fires via educational programmes and prosecutions but they still have a very long way to go.
    It's the calibre of the shooter that counts not the calibre of the rifle.

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