The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) are encouraging locals and visitors alike to enjoy the Park this summer but to do so with great care, asking everyone to ensure they ‘tread lightly’ in this special place.
The CNPA’s ‘Tread Lightly’ campaign focuses on five key areas of responsible outdoor access covering camping and litter, outdoor cooking, toilets, fires, and dogs but with prolonged dry spells and breezy conditions, it’s the issue of lighting fires that is of the utmost concern at the moment.
A wildfire at the National Trust for Scotland’s Mar Lodge Estate in Deeside in recent weeks was caused by a campfire and affected 10 hectares of old Caledonian pinewood.
CNPA board member and retired countryside ranger Willie McKenna said: “The message is quite simple really – never light a fire during long dry spells of weather or in woodland or on peaty soil. We want people to enjoy the Cairngorms National Park and have a great holiday but not at the expense of our wildlife and the important habitats that support them.”
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s (SFRS) Wildfire Project Manager, Group Manager Garry Burnett said: “The Cairngorms National Park boasts some of the most stunning scenery in the UK. SFRS encourages people to visit such areas of natural beauty, but asks people to enjoy the countryside responsibly.
“Warmer weather and increased numbers of people visiting the countryside creates a greater risk of fire. When wildfires occur they impact greatly on many rural and remote areas of Scotland and the UK and can cause substantial environmental and economic damage.
“This impact ranges from damage to farmland and wildlife, as well as protected woodland and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) to buildings, property and the lives of those who live in rural communities.
GM Burnett added: “Make sure you extinguish and dispose of any smoking materials properly. Never throw a lit cigar or cigarette away in a rural environment as they have the potential to cause serious fires or even wildfires during the drier summer months.
“Don’t leave glass or bottles out in the open. Dispose of them in bins. Glass can be magnified by the sun and has the potential to cause a wildfire or serious grassland fire. Make sure recreational fires are made in a fire safe pit or container and that they are properly extinguished before you leave.
“If a fire occurs in the countryside, no matter how small, report it via the 999 service immediately as it has the potential to turn into a wildfire.”
Other things that people are asked to consider concerning fires are:
- Using a stove for cooking rather than an open fire and if using a foil BBQ tray, always place it on stones, shingle or sand. When finished, damp it down and take it away.
- Never cut down trees or move deadwood for a fire – this is home to insects and other wildlife!
- Do report unattended or out of control fires immediately – time is critical.
- And finally, always heed high fire risk warning signs and the advice of rangers and land managers
For more information on enjoying the Cairngorms National Park responsibly please go to: https://cairngorms.co.uk/park-authority/outdoor/rights-resposibilities-guidelines/