Monday, 8 June 2009

Studland Fire

On 20 May, there was a fire on the National Trust’s Godlingston Heath at Studland, on the edge of Poole Bay in Dorset , which is reported to have wiped out wildlife across 2.5 hectares (6 acres) of heathland.

The report brought to mind several issues:
  • It should come as no surprise that the fire occurred. Heathland and fire are related like Tom and Jerry or bread and butter - you do not get one without the other.
  • 28 fire appliances attended the fire. In the whole of Dumfries & Galloway, which is roughly 100 miles long by 30 wide, there are only 21 fire appliances. Like many parts of the UK uplands, D&G contains areas of high conservation value, but it would be fortunate if even one fire appliance was able to get to a fire.
  • We cannot rely on the Fire Services to manage our fires, we must manage to reduce fire risk - prescribed burning, reducing fuel load by grazing.
Heathland will always burn, it is a question of when rather than if, especially in an area close to population, as at Studland. There is no doubt that Studland Heath is an area of high conservation value, and we do not wish to see such areas subjected to wildfires, but there are likely to be some benefits coming from the disaster; it would be good to avoid rushing to doom mongering at the first sight of a flame.

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