Wildfires in Wales – what motivates forest arsonists?

Getting to the bottom of the matter as part of a two-year project ‘Wildfires in Wales: social drivers and mitigation measures’

News from Forest Research: July 2009

Forest wildfire

While many of us may look forward to the summer months, for the Fire and Rescue Services in South Wales it is a time of frustration, with arsonists starting a staggering number of wildfires in the area. So many in fact, that Rhondda Cynon Taff has become the wildfire hotspot of the UK. So what makes people deliberately start forest fires? Forest Research social scientist Matthew Jollands is trying to get to the bottom of the matter as part of a two-year project ‘Wildfires in Wales: social drivers and mitigation measures’.

Working with the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service and Forestry Commission Wales, along with other local organisations and community groups, Matthew will be carrying out a systematic review of existing evidence and research from both home and abroad in a wide-ranging search for answers. This will be followed by community engagement and research.

“People think it’s down to bored kids, but I want to test that theory” Matthew explains. “There haven’t been any convictions for these crimes, so we can’t ask offenders why they start fires. If you look at the problem for long enough, so many strands appear.”

These fires not only blight the landscape but also needlessly put lives at risk each year. It is hoped that the information gathered will provide ideas for new approaches to tackling the problem that destroys vast areas of greenery in the most densely populated part of Wales.

Further information on this project.
 

               

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This and other news stories can be found in the July 2009 issue of FR News, our online newsletter.