Promoting observation, free range exploration, sense of place and citizen science, through the field notes of a naturalist.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Baked alive

In South Wales most early season grass fires occur in bracken, gorse, heather and conifer woodland and have a habit of coinciding with school holidays and a period of dry fine weather. Whilst I'm not totally convinced that the finger blame for all of these upland fires can be pointed in the direction of misbehaving valleys youth (those who wish to burn the uplands for other reasons may hide behind this assumption) those that occur annually at The British are odds on for young delinquent fire starters.  

This year the impact on Gwent's most celebrated of brownfield sites has thankfully been relatively low with only a small outbreak on the heathland dominated bank around the disused engine shed. Nonetheless, the ecological impact of any uncontrolled fire should not be underestimated. Its easy to focus on the loss of breeding bird habitat but its not just birds that feel the heat. A kick around in the carbon rich remains of a charred landscape is likely to turn up all manner of barbecued biodiversity. The image below is just a small collection of grove snail (Cepaea nemoralis) collected from a patch of approximately a metre square. At least birds have the ability to leave a site quickly once alight those other less mobile species are doomed. 

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