Help look after Edinburgh's parks this summer
Visitors to Edinburgh’s parks, woodlands and nature reserves are being urged to take care over the summer months to avoid the risk of fire.
Parks and Greenspace Officers from the City of Edinburgh Council have reminded the public of the speed at which sparks or small flames can escalate, causing severe damage to local greenery and wildlife.
People are encouraged to ‘leave no trace’ after spending time in any of the sites by clearing away rubbish, properly extinguishing barbecues and disposing of cigarettes safely.
Transport and Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, said: “In Edinburgh we are lucky to have such a wealth of parks and greenspaces, many of which offer areas of particular natural beauty and biodiversity.
“Of course it’s fantastic that residents and visitors to the Capital can enjoy these beautiful spaces, but I would encourage the public to treat them with care, ensuring they remain as welcoming to wildlife and people as they have always been.”
Natural Heritage Officer, David Kyles, added: “Fires can be devastating in parks and other more rural and upland areas. The breeding season for birds, between March and July and sometimes seasonally later, is a particularly vulnerable time for nesting birds, especially those that nest on or close to the ground.
“Fires that devastate areas can pose knock-on problems whereby small mammal populations can be significantly harmed, posing localised food shortage, loss of shelter and other sources of food and the general loss of habitat. Please act responsibly when out in Edinburgh’s countryside sites.”
Potentially vulnerable parks include Corstorphine Hill Local Nature Reserve, Easter Craiglockhart Hill Local Nature Reserve and Colinton Dell – areas popular for picnics, barbecues and building campfires over the warmer months.
However, at this time of year many of the sites are home to ground-nesting birds such as skylarks, willow warblers, curlews, lapwings, grouse and more common birds such as wrens, dunnocks and blackbirds, which settle in heather, gorse and low-lying dry shrubbery susceptible to catching fire.
Kenneth Rogers, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) Local Senior Officer for Edinburgh, said: “Grass and wildfires are a common risk at this time of year when warmer weather dries out vegetation and grassland – which offers an ample fuel source. Just one heat source like a campfire ember can cause it to ignite and the if the wind changes direction even the smallest fire can spread uncontrollably and devastate entire hillsides.
“In the unfortunate instance that a fire is set deliberately, SFRS resources can be diverted from real emergencies. Through robust strategic planning we will always be able to respond to an emergency, however the fact remains that these fires can present a very real danger to our communities.”
Amongst precautions, the public are being urged to place disposable barbecues on bricks or sand to avoid overheating and consequently burning grass. Campfires are not permitted in woodland or shrubby areas and anyone building a fire is advised to choose a clear space away from trees and bushes, not to leave their fire unattended and to build a fire ring with stones. They must also ensure the fire is extinguished before leaving the site.
Find out more about Edinburgh’s parks and green spaces.