Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Major Wildfire at Saddleworth

Wildfire in the news
The major blaze being tackled today on Saddleworth Moor was in all likelihood avoidable says moorland charity, The Heather Trust.

The Trust’s Director, Anne Gray, comments “This wildfire is the latest and likely the most devastating of a series of wildfires that have taken hold this spring and summer across the UK. The late and very dry spring, which has meant the moisture content in vegetation is low, has provided dry fuel and with wind and a source of ignition, the inevitable has happened. While not all of these factors can be controlled, it is possible to manage moorland to reduce the risk and extent of wildfire, and we must get better at doing this”.

“The fire on Saddleworth has seen nearby houses evacuated. The risk to lives and property has to be taken seriously and is of the utmost importance. We hope no-one will be injured as a result of it. At a time when so much effort is being put into reducing and reversing carbon loss from peatbogs, it is also demoralising to think about how much carbon will have been lost due to this and other fires this year”.

The Heather Trust’s President, Professor Rob Marrs, adds “Key to managing wildfire is a functional fire danger rating system for the UK. We must get much better at warning everyone when conditions for fire are high. Coupled with this is the need to take management of the fuel stock that is moorland vegetation seriously. It is not a case of whether rank heather and scrubby vegetation will burn, but when it will burn. Moors that are managed by an appropriate mix of controlled burning, cutting and grazing will pose less of a risk.”

The Heather Trust Chair the England and Wales Wildfire Forum and are a member of the Scottish Wildfire Forum. The idea of a major Wildfire Conference in 2019 has been mooted and The Heather Trust are fully supportive of such an event.

We would like to shine a spotlight on the issues, enable a variety of views to be aired and seek solutions.

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