Moorland fires: devastating to the environmentFire risks in England’s national parks are expected to lessen as cooler, wetter weather moves across the country, but many areas remain on a ‘high’ level and prone to wildfires.

Moorland fires: devastating to the environment

Britain’s Met Office now produces a Fire Severity Index, and rights to roam are automatically suspended when this reaches its highest mark: level five – exceptional. At present, most areas are below this but, by Sunday, the eastern Peak District is forecast to have a high risk, one point below that at which access rights are put on hold.

The index uses information such as wind speed, temperature, time of year and rainfall to produce a fire-severity assessment. This weather information is derived from observations taken around the country by the Met Office every hour.

A number of wildfires have been reported recently, including one started deliberately on Northern Ireland’s highest peak Slieve Donard, and a large blaze which affected Grisedale Pike in the Lake District on Sunday, which was caused by a lightning strike.

Upland areas can take decades to recover, especially when the fire takes hold in dry peat. Wildlife and plants also suffer, and there is the obvious risk to human life.

Authorities ask walkers to take care on the uplands when there has been a prolonged warm, dry period. Smokers should stub out their cigarettes on stones or the sole of the boot and take the butt home.

Don’t start campfires or light barbecues in high-risk areas. If you see a fire, call 999 straight away and give general location. Be aware that wildfires can spread rapidly, especially in windy conditions, and you shouldn’t do anything that puts your life, or others’ in danger.

The current Fire Severity Index can be obtained for each 10×10km square of England. It’s virtually impossible to find on a frustratingly poor-to-navigate website, so we’ll save you some time. You can find the index and check the areas you want to walk in. You can see the current status and the forecast for the next five days.

None of the access restrictions apply to public footpaths and bridleways which cross Countryside and Rights of Way access land.