How you can prevent wildfire outbreaks this summer

Climate change means wildfires are becoming more common in the UK. Warm weather increases the risk of a fire, but most of the time, the spark that starts a wildfire is linked to activity by people. By following a few simple rules when out and about, we can greatly reduce the risk of causing a wildfire.

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Seen from above: A group of four adults sat on benches around a campfire, which is surrounded by a ring of stones.
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How to enjoy the great outdoors safely this summer:

  • If it’s hot, dry or windy, forget about the barbecue or campfire – grab the picnic basket instead 
  • If the weather is suitable and you want to cook, wherever possible, use a stove rather than light an open fire  
  • Any campfires or barbecues should only be lit in designated places where it is safe to do so. 
  • Always make sure you safely dispose of hot embers and leave no trace of the fire before you leave. 
  • Make sure you take your litter home, as it can help fires to spread. You can help further by litter-picking any debris left by others
  • Don’t throw cigarettes on the ground, and ensure they are fully put out before you put them in the bin 
  • Keep glass objects out of direct sunlight, as the glare can start fires

Why are wildfires in the UK increasing?

Taking care not to start wildfires has never been so important. Climate change means that in the UK, and around the world, we’re seeing more extreme weather. The Met Office says increasing temperatures are causing more extreme heat events such as heatwaves. Record-breaking high temperatures are becoming more frequent, long-lasting and intense. This extreme weather is increasing the “scale, intensity and frequency of wildfires” all over the world.  

A lone Woodcock camouflaged between leaves.

Recent research by the Met Office suggests there is an increasing risk of “hazardous fire weather conditions” in the summer in the UK, and possibly early autumn. It says that wildfires here should be considered an “emergent risk” and action needs to be taken to manage this.  

Nature havens devastated by wildfire

Last summer we saw firsthand the damage that wildfire can do when a blaze destroyed around half of RSPB Corrimony in the Highlands, Scotland. The fire devastated the homes of wildlife such as Black Grouse and Scottish Crossbill at a key time of year and 25 years of recreating and restoring native Caledonian forest has gone up in smoke.  

A working tackling the remains of a peatland fire.

Wildfire also destroyed vital wildlife habitat in the Peak District, on land managed by the RSPB and National Trust, as part of the Eastern Moors Partnership. The fire engulfed parts of Burbage Moor and the Lady Cannings Plantation, with Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service, Eastern Moors ranger team, National Trust rangers and the Peak District National Park ranger team working together to put out the blaze.

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