Lancashire

Lancashire moorland 'at risk' of fire in dry weather

Firefighter damping down peat
Image caption A large fire destroyed large areas of moor and woodland at Horwich in 2011

A prolonged spell of dry weather has increased the risk of fire on the West Pennine Moors, the Lancashire Wildlife Trust has warned.

In the last week there have been two fires on the Lancashire moors at Healey Nab and Scout Moor.

Dave Dunlop, from the trust, said a lack of rain had led to "an increasing risk" of fire.

In May 2011 a large fire destroyed large areas of moor and woodland at Horwich near Bolton.

'Reserves vulnerable'

Mr Dunlop said fire was "particularly an issue in the West Pennine Moors, where arson compounds the risk of accidental fires, endangering moorland wildlife and releasing the large amounts of carbon captured in the peat over thousands of years back into the atmosphere".

A fire on Anglezarke Moor in 2010 destroyed the only breeding population of the nationally rare twite. The bird has not bred on the moor since.

The effects of the 2011 fire at Red Moss can still be seen on the moorland.

Mr Dunlop said: "Where restoration works have been undertaken, recovery from last year's fire is good, but it is poor on the unrestored areas.

"We are worried that the trust's other mossland nature reserves will be vulnerable until we have a sustained spell of rain.

"The West Pennine Moors is of national importance for its blanket bog habitat and its populations of moorland birds, such as golden plover, snipe, curlew and merlin."

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