FIREFIGHTERS from South Wales Fire Service spoke at a fire awareness day, organised by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), at Ruabon Mountain on 1 August.
The 7,000-acre heather moorland, which is rich in grouse and waders including curlew and golden plover, has a strong collaboration between the graziers, gamekeepers, landowner and shoot captain.
Craig Hope, from South Wales Fire Service, believes that reducing the risk of fire is of major importance across the UK with the vast numbers of wildfires on uplands.
He said: “Of course, it’s about public safety for us, but these places are of major importance to each one of us and we need to value them differently.
“They hold a lot of power over us in terms of providing us with clean drinking water, air and controlling the flow of water downstream which is devastating communities.
“Our management of cutting, rolling, creating controlled ‘cool’ burns to create firebreaks across the open hill runs parallel to the work of the gamekeepers which has been used for decades to promote healthy, biodiverse upland ecosystems, reducing the fuel load and avoiding mass wildfires.
“We all need to work better together with a robust plan on every hill in Wales and that includes working with whole communities.”
The day was organised following a devastating 40-day blaze on Llantysilio Mountain last year.
“We must not let the same thing happen here,” said Sue Evans, Wales director at the GWCT.
“The tremendous loss of birds and wildlife during the 40-day blaze on Llantysilio Mountain last year has wiped out years of biodiversity which, with the right management and communication, could have been avoided.”
Bethan Beech, from Natural Resources Wales, spoke about the need for active management to help prevent a repeat from last year and stressed that lessons have been learned which will be listed in a report this Autumn on how the 40-day blaze on Llantysilio Mountain could have been prevented.
Despite being on a hill with a number of designations - and the restrictions those bring - Ruabon Hill is rich in farming heritage and has delivered an impressive range of biodiversity over generations.
Notes to editors
The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – providing research-led conservation for a thriving countryside. The GWCT is an independent wildlife conservation charity which has carried out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife since the 1930s. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.
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