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TRUE THREAT OF WILDFIRE RISK IN CLIMATE CHANGE COMMITTEE REPORT HIGHLIGHTED BY MOORLAND ASSOCIATION

29th March 2023

The Moorland Association today is encouraged by the Climate Change Committee’s latest adaptation report that highlights for the first time the real threat to life and ecosystems of wildfire in our changed climate. The independent committee also identifies the most effective approach to mitigate the risk.

2022 was a record year for large wildfires in England. Nearly a thousand were recorded, exacerbated by record temperatures, a higher number of visitors to rural areas and an increasing amount of combustible vegetation.

Fire and rescue services have been placed under intolerable pressure to tackle fires beyond their capacity in inaccessible areas and for which they lack experience and essential equipment.

Amanda Anderson, director of the Moorland Association, said: “We welcome the CCC’s recognition of the extreme risk that wildfire now poses to our upland ecosystems and that vegetation management at the local level, minimising impacts on biodiversity, is an essential action to break up the fuel available to the fires. This confirms the findings of a wildfire risk report in the Peak District National Park published in May last year. Commissioned by the National Park Authority with Natural England, it highlighted the urgent need to create a landscape-scale strategy to stop a predicted ten-mile inferno stretching from Sheffield to Glossop with a wall of flames as tall as a three-story building destroying the length of a football pitch every two and half minutes.

“We must act now before it is too late. If we don’t, people could die, highly protected habitats will be devastated and millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide will be released from peat soils.”

The Peak District Wildfire Report published last year was produced by international wildfire experts, fire fighters and land managers in the Peak District. The report identified the imminent risk of devastating wildfires beyond the capability of FRS to bring under control. The summary report can be read here.

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Fire behaviour risk heat map for the Derwent focus area taken from the Peak District National Park Wildfire Risk Assessment 2022. At the white dot the flame length is predicted to be 7.6m and the rate of spread is 2393m/hour.

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Did You Know?

75% of Europe’s remaining upland heather moorland is found in the UK – but this area declined alarmingly over the latter part of the last century. The Moorland Association was set up in 1986 to coordinate the efforts of moorland owners and managers to halt this loss, particularly in England and Wales.

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