Concern for wildlife at risk from wild fires

Wednesday 27th June 2018

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Following the on-going wildfires in Saddleworth Moor near Manchester there has now been a fire on Island at Port Grenaugh caused by a carelessly discarded disposable BBQ. Fortunately, firefighters from Douglas station were able to bring it under control but it has highlighted the issue. The recent hot weather has left much of the Island’s open spaces tinder dry and the slightest thing, like a discarded cigarette or even glass jars and bottles (which can act as a magnifying glass), could start a potentially catastrophic fire.

It has been well known that fires can have a devastating impact on communities, whether people or wildlife. People will remember Bradda Head and its impact can still be seen on the heathland. Most recently, our Dalby Mountain Nature Reserve was deliberately lit, and this could have been disastrous but for the quick work of the Fire and Rescue Service.

The impacts of fire can be long reaching, and while it is sometimes used for careful and considerate management of our heaths, out of control and malicious fires can wipe out breeding birds, reptiles and huge tracts of vegetation and the invertebrates that rely on them for years to come. There are knock on effects for erosion, carbon emissions and any farms who have stock grazing the land. It can really affect livelihoods and lives – the fires can be ferocious and far from large water supplies. If the areas are degraded and dried peatland, then the danger magnifies with fires burning over days or even weeks, possibly even traveling underground burning in the peat, which puts those tackling the blaze in danger, before the fires move towards homes and businesses and can endangering those.

Manx Wildlife Trust CEO Tim Graham Said:
“fires have devastating consequences for people and wildlife, so during these very dry periods people need to take greater care and not be reckless starting fires. People also need to make sure they report seeing fires, as the sooner they are tackled, the safer it is. Better to repeat the sight of a fire than think someone else will report it. We were lucky the other weekend that our reserve only suffered a small burn, it could easily have been much worse - a big thank you to the fire service for their efforts.”