ith a prolonged hot and dry period at the start of lockdown the outdoors was soon highly at risk of a wildfire tearing through the

landscape. Errant embers, carelessly cast cigarette ends and discarded disposable BBQs left still packing heat is all that was needed to spark the tinder, as was soon seen when Bamford Edge in the Peak District was rampaged through with a devastating blaze. Fortunately, the damage was stopped short of disaster by the quick actions of local firefighters.

While the weather may have turned drab and drizzley, high summer has yet to come and prime connies could be just around the corner and with that, further risk of damage to the flora and fauna of our hills.

Wild fires not nonly destroy You can help!

Moorland fires are clearly something we all want to avoid, but what can we do as walkers and climbers out and about in these areas to help prevent further fires?

• Report any fire you see immediately by calling 999 and giving your location. 2pm-8pm is a particularly high risk time of day and acting quickly can make a big difference to the chances of getting any fire rapidly under control.

• Unfortunately malicious damage is occasionally the cause of moorland fires, so report suspicious activity you see to the emergency services whilst out on the hills and moors.

• Respect any ‘high fire risk’ warning signs placed by National

vegetation and with it the habitats of animals – such as ground-nesting birds, many of which are already suffering a decline in numbers – but if the fire goes deep into the moors, it can do irreparable harm to the peat contained within which is hugely important for the climate as it sequester carbon and stores water.

Furthermore, homes and businesses can be affected. The already meagre resources of the fire service, National Park Authorities, conservation bodies and landowners will be stretched. Not to mention that from a purely selfish perspective, the beauty of the hills is marred by vast desolate scars which can ruin a favourite trek or viewpoint. We’re surely preaching to the choir, however we must all be aware of the things we can do to help mitigate the risk of wild fires.

Park or Local Authorities – they are only placed where there is very high risk due to very dry conditions.

• Leave stoves, disposable bbqs or anything else with an open flame at home as a small mistake in their use could have catastrophic consequences.

• No smoking in any areas of high fire risk (notified by warning signs at access points).

• Dispose of litter, particularly glass, responsibly. Take everything you bring away with you.

• Be aware of updated wildfire advice promoted by organisations such as the Peak District National Park Wildfires page: frequently-asked-questions/faqs-wildfires

• Follow the latest Covid-19 guidelines:

Dr Cath Flitcroft, BMC access and conservation officer, says:

“Why should we be concerned? Principally it is the heathland and peatland habitats that are particularly prone to wildfire in the UK. Each year, fires, and moorland fires in particular, have a devastating effect on wildlife, livestock and people. They can often destroy the underlying peat that is crucial in our fight against climate change; our peatlands in fact store twice as much carbon as all of the world’s forests. Fires burn for days or weeks, can re-ignite and require significant human and financial resources; all at a significant cost to the public purse. For example, these can cost in excess of £5 million to extinguish and in some areas, threaten millions of pounds of peatland restoration work. There is no feature of our upland environment that is not harmed in some way by these fires.”


We're calling on parliament to criminalise the use of disposable BBQs in open areas, including moorland settings. SUMMIT#98 | SUMMER 2020 | 67

Help the hills moor! With the BMC Hills 2 Oceans campaign. Here’s how:

Following the easing of lockdown, thousands of people have been heading to our hills, beaches, open spaces and crags which has led to widespread littering of some of our most treasured areas. We are encouraging our members and the wider public to help remove as much of this litter as possible before it ends up in our oceans.

It is estimated there are now 5.25 trillion pieces of ocean plastic debris, and the quantity of plastic in the sea will treble by 2025. There are also reports that some areas have seen a 300% rise in fly-tipping after local authorities closed recycling centres amid the Covid-19 crisis, and the recent hot weather and relaxed lockdown rules have meant an increase in discarded food and drink packaging, particularly single-use plastics.

How to get involved:

Perhaps you’ve already noticed the rubbish in your local area or along your favourite walk or crag? We would encourage you, as part of this, to take a litter pick and remove as much rubbish as possible. Find out how to request resources to organise your own litter pick and read our guidelines on removing litter safely during Covid-19 on the BMC website.


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