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  • Writer's picturekenneth

Beware of Heathland Fires

Updated: Jul 23, 2022

When we head out for a rural walk in and around our borough, probably the last place we would head for would be an area decimated by fire. But unfortunately, a landscape destroyed by fire is becoming more and more common – as seen all too clearly over recent weeks. Nationally, our heathlands and fields are falling victim to wildfires which in most cases were avoidable. For one very recent example click HERE

All too often, the cause of these disastrous fires is down to ignorance, selfishness, laziness and other similar traits. It doesn’t take a genius to know that when the countryside is tinder dry, throwing away a cigarette end, leaving glass around to reflect and focus sunlight or - particularly needless – using disposable barbecues, are all likely to lead to destruction of our countryside.

These fires don’t just have an visual impact – they destroy habitats! Heathland fires – such as those seen in local areas such as Whitmoor Common and in many of the neighbouring Waverley heaths – are especially disastrous. Our area contains a significant percentage of the world’s rare heathland habitat and hence the specialist birds, insects, reptiles etc. that have adapted to live on them. Examples of these are the Nightjar, Dartford Warbler, Sand Lizard and Smooth Snake. It can take decades for severely damaged heathland to fully recover – you can still see the aftermath of Thursley’s major fire from years ago. If we are serious about looking after our countryside and improving its biodiversity it is down to us to do all we can to prevent these fires.

So, when you are out for your walks, obviously don’t behave in such a way as to cause a fire but, just as importantly, do all that you reasonably can to prevent others doing so. This can be anything from lobbying your local shop to stop selling disposable barbecues through to reminding friends, neighbours and others about how to avoid risking a fire. One other thing that you can do is to be aware that an unfortunate number of these fires are being caused by malicious behaviour. Please do keep your eyes open and if you see even the beginnings of a smouldering patch of countryside, do raise the alarm. Leaving it to someone else may make it far too late to prevent a major conflagration. You only have to think of the fires around London during recent days to know that no area is immune. Next time it could be your property or that of your friends which is caught up in a fire.

Keep safe, keep walking and look after our countryside.

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