chapter  23
28 Pages

Moorland wildfire risk, visitors and climate change: Patterns, prevention and policy


Wildfires are of increasing concern in a range of ecosystems and cultural landscapes. Variously known as bushfires or wildland fires, wildfires are vegetation fires, which can occur accidentally, as a result of arson or prescribed burns which escape. Although often associated with Mediterranean climates and forest habitats, severe wildfires are also common in the UK in drought years, especially on moorlands and heaths. Although fire is also used as a traditional management tool to maintain the character of UK moorlands (Froyd, 2006; Sotherton et al.; Yallop et al., both this volume), uncontrolled wildfires in the uplands can be highly damaging, dangerous, and expensive to extinguish (Burnett, 2004). They pose a serious threat to the delivery of ecosystem goods and services, such as carbon retention, erosion prevention, or provision of habitat for biodiversity, as well as threats to human settlements in some locations. Wildfire frequency and magnitude are likely to increase with climate change (Solomon et al., 2007).