Tuesday, 3 May 2011

More on Wildfires

The post on 28 April has proved to be all too relevant.  The Fire & Rescue Services have had a very busy Bank Holiday weekend indeed.  A good source of information is the BBC website and the following two articles cover the latest situation:

Six People Airlifted from Torridon Wildfire
Crews continue battle with Highland Wildfires

The locations of the recent wildfires shown in the video report on the second link shows that the wildfire problem has been experienced across Northern England, Northern Ireland as well as Scotland.

These are serious incidents.  It is not just the 'harmless' burning of heather. There is a real risk to property and people - note that evacuation in Scotland has been considered and people had to be airlifted to safety or rescued by lifeboat.  In addition to the destruction of habitat that will adversely affect breeding birds at this time of year, there has been the economic loss associated with the destruction of recently planted woodland.

In these conditions, it is easy to get people to think about measures to reduce the risk of wildfire, but it is a shame that this enthusiasm appears to wane as soon as it rains.  I believe we need to take the risk of wildfire more seriously.  The indications are that climate change is going to produce hotter, drier summers that will serve to increase the risk of wildfires.

Against this background, it is very relevant that, with thanks to Northumberland Fire & Rescue Service for sponsoring my flight, I am attending the International Wildfire Conference in South Africa, next week.  I would be pleased to hear from anyone about wildfire issues either before or after the conference.  I will add key messages and a summary to this Blog during and after the conference.

In this country our wildfire threat is not as extreme as in other countries (see the recent photos from Texas) but we should not ignore the increasing risk.

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