A two-year project looking at wildfires in South Wales has recently been completed
News from Forest Research: July 2011
The joint project, involving Forest Research, Coed y Cymoedd Forest District and two Welsh Fire and Rescue Services, looked at the social context in which wildfires occur in the South Wales Valleys and explored the potential reasons behind incidences of deliberately started wildfires.
On average there are over 5000 wildfires – including both grass and forest fires – in South Wales annually, which is more per unit area than anywhere else in the UK. The perception is that the majority of these are started deliberately. Our research found that areas with higher levels of relative deprivation experienced higher numbers of fires. However, the majority of local residents do not see a problem with wildfires, although they do recognise that they are largely deliberately started.
The researchers interviewed a selection of young people, some of whom had set fires. The young people attributed fire-setting behaviour to levels of boredom and a lack of engaging activities in their local area. In addition, youth workers felt that there was a lack of connection between young people and the surrounding natural environment.
Findings from the research have been used by Coed y Cymoedd Forest District to improve the way they deal with fire-setting and their relationships with external partners and stakeholders.
Jake Morris will be presenting more details of this research on behalf of Matthew Jollands and Andy Moffat at ‘Wildfire 2011’, which takes place on 14 and 15 of September 2011, at Buxton in the Peak District.