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Wildfire warning after North York Moors nature reserve gutted by fire

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has issued an urgent wildfire warning ahead of the bank holiday

weekend after a nationally important nature reserve on the North York Moors was gutted by fire, as reported in the Yorkshire Press.

The fire which tore through Fen Bog last week destroyed a third of the nature reserve's nationally-important valley mire ecology.

The Trust says that, but for a rapid response by fire crews from Whitby and Malton, the fire could have been even worse,"Thankfully due to a wet spring and a rapid response by the Malton and Whitby fire crews, the fire did not take hold in the peat soil - which would have caused far more damage," a spokesperson for the wildlife trust said.

The fire was the first on a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve this year. It has prompted the trust to urge people to take extra care to avoid any fire risk head of the bank holiday weekend, which is expected to be warm and dry.

As we move into the summer, the trust is asking the public to be mindful when spending time on nature reserves."Our wild habitats are extremely vulnerable to fire, particularly as increased effects of climate change are leading to hotter and drier summers. If out and about, please do not bring barbecues onto our reserves and be mindful of anything that could start a fire.

"As our weather turns warmer and drier, this is an important reminder of the dangers of wildfire, how easily they can happen - one spark from a cigarette or barbecue can be disastrous for many habitats.” Fen Bog nature reserve provides an important nesting site for curlews, whinchats and meadow pipits.

The trust says any birds nesting in the area will have lost their eggs or young as a result of the fire. Caterpillars of rare butterflies including large heath have also likely been wiped out, along with other rare insects like bog bush-cricket.

There is no indication of how the fire started."But Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is extremely grateful to the members of the public who raised the alarm," a spokesperson said. "The Trust also thanks North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue for their quick response, and will continue to work with them pending any investigation."

Lying alongside the North York Moors Steam Railway, Fen Bog is protected as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) because the valley mire has some of the most unusual species of the sphagnum moss in the region. The Trust says it will be working with Natural England to examine the full extent of the damage and potentially implement some preventative measures for the future - but says it is optimistic that plant life on the reserve will recover.


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