As we prepare to head for South Africa for the International Wildfire Conference, news that Northern Ireland and Scotland continue to battle wildfires reinforces the fact that this is and continues to be a monumental global issue.
It’s interesting to note that in the Scottish Highlands, one of their big concerns is the safety of the large populations of ground-nesting birds, including some of their rarest and most cherished species, which face devastation during this, the peak of breeding season. In Ireland, the minister of state forestry said last weekend was one of the worst in the history of Irish forestry, as they continue to attack close to 2,000 wildfires spreading across the country, some of which are human caused by those burning gorse (a type of evergreen shrub dubbed ‘fireweed’) or rubbish.
We can’t change Mother Nature when it comes to our seasons, but we can, no matter where we live, try and influence behavior. What do we consider are our great cultural assets, those that are most at risk due to wildfires? Depending upon where we live, that answer changes slightly.
As we continue to look across borders to share practices and lessons learned, we ask, is there a program in Ireland or Scotland similar to Firewise? How are people in these countries educating the public about risk mitigation and safety, and how are communities working together in these trying times? We’d love to hear your thoughts.