Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Wildfire 2011 Conference

This conference was held in Buxton, 14-15 September 2011. I was pleased to be invited to give a presentation at the conference on the subject of “Preparing for Wildfire in the UK".

This presentation can be viewed here and drew on the experience I gained from attending the International Wildfire Conference in South Africa in May 2011.

One of the key messages I came back from South Africa with was that we need to plan for wildfire now, and not treat a wildfire event as exceptional. With climate change producing warmer, hotter summers, the wildfires of early May 2011, just as I left for South Africa, are likely to become more frequent.

As part of preparing for wildfire, I believe we also need to be bolder about reducing fuel loading and this means more prescribed burning and cutting. Maybe we do not need to be so precious about protecting our heathland vegetation.  If we do not manage it properly, it is likely that fire will do it for us and this could easily be at a time of year when great damage will be caused.

It is not if it burns, it is when.  

I plan to write an article pulling some of these ideas together, based on the discussions that took place at both wildfire conferences, and also drawing together some of my own ideas. I will publish this on the Trust's website, in due course.

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