CLA Cymru pleads for vigilance as threat from wildfires continues

As the May Bank Holidays approach, the CLA (Country Land and Business Association) is calling on the public to take extra care in the Welsh countryside amid the increasing risk of wildfires.
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The warning comes as tinder-dry and windy conditions increase the risk of fire across large areas of the country, especially on hillsides, moors and heathland. At this time of the year, the fires can devastate habitat and nesting-places for wildfowl.

It follows a spate of wildfires across the country from Mynydd Cilgwyn and Nantmor in Snowdonia, Caswell Bay on the Gower, Kilvey Hill near Swansea, Aberhenwaun Uchaf near Port Talbot, Ferndale, Rhondda Cynon Taf and a number of gorse and heath-fires elsewhere. By their nature such fires are in difficult-to-reach places for the emergency services.

CLA Cymru, which represents thousands of landowners, farmers and rural businesses in Wales says - in addition to the dry weather conditions, the possibility of more people heading to the countryside following the Welsh Government's easing of lockdown restrictions could heighten the risk of fires.

Says Nigel Hollett, CLA Cymru Director, "Wildfires have the capability to devastate farmland, wildlife and their habitats and also pose a risk to the lives of people living and working in rural communities. Reducing the risk of wildfires is key at this time of the year, and raising awareness is one way in which the risk can be reduced.”

"Wildfires can be prevented by not discarding cigarettes or other smouldering material. The same can be said for litter, as quite often bottles and shards of glass can spark a fire."

“There is also an increased fire risk associated with the use of disposable barbecues. CLA Cymru asks visitors to the countryside not to use them as it is almost impossible to cool them down and take them home afterwards. ‘Disposable’ does not mean just leaving them behind!

"Large wildfires are thankfully rare, but when they do occur they can be very serious, affecting large areas of the countryside, and can cause untold damage to wildlife, destroying ecosystems in a matter of hours which have taken years to establish. We appeal to the public to be extra-vigilant when visiting the countryside. Do not throw lit cigarette ends out of your vehicle and, if you see a fire in the countryside, report it immediately.”

"It only takes a small spark to start a fire on ground as dry as it is currently, so extra caution must be taken to help protect crops, wildlife and habitats."