Flames bring life to moorland

Ranger Chris Hansell and his team undertake controlled burning
Ranger Chris Hansell and his team undertake controlled burning

AT this time of year it’s not uncommon to see fires burning across the moors, but the message from one wildlife ranger is – don’t panic.

As part of the moorland management programs implemented by various organisations throughout the national park, controlled burning is used to create a mosaic of habitats to benefit the native wildlife.

Each year, the region’s fire services are regularly called out to instances of controlled burning, where people mistakenly believe a wildfire is taking place.

Fylingdales Moor ranger Chris Hansell said that he is grateful to anyone who reports burning.

He added: “There have been several wildfires on the moor in recent years and if people hadn’t contacted the fire service then there would have been far more damage done to the environment.

“I would particularly like to thank the residents of Ravenscar who came out to investigate the smoke from the moor when we were burning in that area recently.

“After the huge fire of 2003 I fully understand their concern.”

Prior to starting any controlled burning, the ranger and his team will alert the fire service to their intentions and so Mr Hansell added: “Please remember – if in doubt, ring it in.”

Controlled burning takes place from the beginning of October until the end of March, although in years of poor weather this can be extended until the middle of April.

Consequently any smoke that can be seen on the moors at that time of year will most likely be part of the program and will be attended by representatives of that moor’s management group, who will be easily identifiable at the scene of the fire.

The ranger added it was important to point out that anyone undertaking controlled burning on the moors is highly trained and is working with the landowner and emergency service’s consent and so should not be attempted by anyone else.