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Ashdown forest fires today

Discussion in 'Bushcraft Chatter' started by Darryl of Sussex, Feb 26, 2019.

  1. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Full Member

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    Thanks, Woody girl.
    You have the most magnificent opportunity to watch succession in action.
    One set of seral stages will begin as cleared land is abandoned.
    The other begins specifically after a burn. This is the one you get to see.

    The deal is, you can predict the shifts in the plant community.
    Those are followed by the shifts in the animal community.
    The game is to watch carefully enough to see the change happening.

    You cannot outrun our big wildfires. They make their own weather.
    Everything dies. Cattle, deer, bears, everything cooked alive.
     
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  2. Woody girl

    Woody girl Full Member

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    I'm not professing to be any sort of expert. There are plenty of people with much more knowledge on any given subject in this forum than me. But having been born in a forest and spent much of my formative years living there. Completed a city and guilds in forestry worked for the small woodlands organisation in the field (or woods) and also British trust for nature conservation. Lived the last 40 years in a moorland and wooded environment. Been a volunteer assistant ranger on dartmoor and exmoor. I do have a smattering of information in this small noggin of mine! I have experienced swaling and forest fires as well as moorland fires. If managed fires are set at the right time of year and done under control there is minimal damage and can be very beneficial for flora and fauna. Wildfires are another kettle of fish. They are out of control and pretty terrifying. Very little escapes and it can be awfull comming across burned carcasses days or weeks later. My heart sinks everytime I hear of a wildfire wherever it is in the world. They have more impact in the UK because in contrast to Scandinavia, USA, or Canada we have so much less acerage of trees. It's always a disaster in the UK. Despite knowing that fire has been used in land management since man began... and of course there are natural Wildfires set of by lightening since the world began. It still makes my heart sink and I want to cry (big baby that I am) as I love trees so much..... dogs come an extremely close second! .... !
     
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  3. Janne

    Janne M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)

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    You might inform us - Woody Girl- are fires as beneficial as in northern Americas?
    My very limited kniwledge says no. Apart from the removal of competing smaller trees and bushes, so that more established trees can benefit fom the spsce (= sunlight) and incresed nutrition?
     
  4. Darryl of Sussex

    Darryl of Sussex Full Member

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    Having read the comments in this thread, I find myself favouring more controlled burns rather than waiting for more inevitable uncontrolled devastation of Ashdown Forest. To me it seems reasonable, especially as there are signs in every car park stating who owns it, what the rules of implied access are and what they’ll do to anyone who messes with their land. The thing is, I seem to recall a very recent news item in which a Ranger was saying that due to County Council budget cuts, there was now funding available for just two part-time Rangers positions in the whole of East Sussex. There are volunteer programmes for various projects but I can't see how two part time Rangers would manage them, as well as their own workloads.

    Whatever the politics of this situation, from the few days i’ve recently spent extreme picnicking in Ashdown forest (no I didn’t want, light or need a fire or stove), I found myself wondering about prevailing winds, likely directions of travel of wild fires, how i’ve seen fires behave ie jump, develop etc, how dry much of the ground cover is and the proximity of woodland to gorse and bracken. Unless there’s a 24/7 reactionary volunteer firewatch team and fire brigade (which there may well be for all I know), I can’t see how anything larger than the recent fires could be contained, should they occur later this year.

    Perhaps, as the Fire Brigade are inevitably going to be involved in such incidents, they should be funded and trained to assist in controlled burns or interested people like me could be trained and paid to assist when necessary? There I go, thinking again.....
     
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  5. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Full Member

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    Fire Brigades have the wrong training for fighting wild fires.
    They MUST remain at their stations for potential structural fires resulting from flaming debris from the wild fire.
    Here that's normally less that 2" diameter and 5' long. Wildfires are muscular animals.

    You see, if the fire brigade is rushing off to wild fires,
    what does that say for what you thought you might have had for fire insurance?
    Your claim becomes null and void?

    Wildfire crews are trained and certified here. As need arises, Canada trades teams with other fire prone countries
    such as Mexico, New Zealand and Australia = they fit right in, they know what to do.
    Most of the time, the Americans have their hands full with their own wild fires, particularly in the west.
     
  6. Darryl of Sussex

    Darryl of Sussex Full Member

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    In the video I posted, there were a few less familiar (to me) vehicles driving around but i’m not aware of anything other than the Fire Brigade who might deal with bushfires here. I could well be wrong about that but the FB always seem to be involved.
     
  7. chas brookes

    chas brookes Full Member

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    Having been a firefighter in the UK for 35 years I can confirm that the local fire brigade/authority are responsible for fighting wildfires. During this time I attended several incidents of this sort including some on Ashdown Forest. Both East Sussex Fire & Rescue and West Sussex Fire & Rescue have specialist equipment for use in fighting wildfires and additional training is given to personnel. As regards cover for additional building fires, RTC's etc this is always maintained by standby appliances and cover from nearby stations or neighbouring authorities. The UK differs from many country's, although each county has their own fire authority all are obliged by law to provide mutual assistance to neighbouring fire service ;):)
     
    #47 chas brookes, Mar 3, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
  8. Nomad64

    Nomad64 Full Member

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    Oh but we should - sadly for all the benefits that the interweb has given us, social media provides the ideal environment for idiotic ideas of all kinds to spread like wildfire! ;)

    FWIW the OP (post #21) had referred to what he felt was a Green idiot talking nonsense about wildfires, in the interests of balance, I thought an example of an Orange one would be helpful.

    Hopefully you will find the more subtle satire direct from Finland less upsetting! ;)



    I’m off to search online for a Sami inspired Gransfors Bruks Small Forest rake! ;)

    One thing to bear in mind is that unlike the large pine and birch forests in Scandinavia and Canada, the forests in the UK (certainly England and Wales) are typically made up of broadleaved trees with life cycles of centuries rather than decades and those cycles have been interrupted by the hand of man over millennia - otherwise IIRC the whole country would revert to woodland.

    The active management (at least up until the middle of 20th Century) through coppicing, pollarding grazing and historically boar and deer hunting by nobles. Deer and domesticated animals, particularly pigs (and their wild cousins) rooting around in a forest and heathland will have a big impact on the vegetation and probably ensured that the build up of flammable material was minimised.

    I don’t know Ashdown Forest itself but the landscape (which seems to be made up of distinct heathland and woodland sections) looks very similar to parts of the West Country where I grew up and (bizarrely) the African plateau where my inner pyromaniac was unleashed. Below is a link to more information about Ashdown Forest’s ecology and history.

    https://www.ashdownforest.org/wild/environment.php

    From the pictures and videos, it does appear that the fires in Ashdown Forest were in the heathland part of the “Forest” rather than the woodland.

    Round here in mid-Wales (and in the Mendips where I grew up), gorse and bracken are a problem - apparently less sheep, ponies etc. are turned out onto common land for grazing during the summer with more intense of lowland pastures being used instead. Round here, bracken has traditionally been harvested as an alternative to straw for bedding but without grazing and trampling early in the growing season it is becoming a nuisance.

    Gorse/furze with near year round bloom is a great benefit to wildlife but is invasive if left unchallenged and as the citizens of Edinburgh have been witnessing - highly combustible.

    I’ve been fighting a border war against incursion of both bracken and gorse from the common land above mine - it will be a long battle but cutting or preferably, bruising the bracken in three successive months over the summer does seem to be weakening it. I’m happy to keep some gorse but want to control it - unfortunately those seed pods do not respect bounderies! :)

    You may find yourself talking to little old ladies about fire alarms rather than being given a firebeater on day 1 but if you want to get involved, there are openings for community volunteers in most Fire Brigades.

    https://www.esfrs.org/your-safety/community-volunteers/

    I’ve no idea what happens with Ashdown Forest but in most areas, the local Wildlife Trust, National Trust, Woodland Trust etc. will have volunteer groups involved in habitat management which may involve work on fire breaks and other stuff directly or indirectly related to fire control. You might be surprised to find that many of the people actively involved with conservation and the environment spend as much time wielding chainsaws as they do hugging trees.

    Have fun and let us know how you get on! :)
     
    #48 Nomad64, Mar 3, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
  9. Darryl of Sussex

    Darryl of Sussex Full Member

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    May I ask your opinion of holding (more) controlled burns in Ashdown Forest? To me it seems to be the most reasonable way to protect the Forest from uncontrolled damage but I can only guess at the methods of preventing spread and agreeing responsibility of controlling it.

    I once saw the effects of a controlled burn in Australia. The Tree Fern ‘blackboys’ (so named after their appearance after being burned) had rejuvenated (someone told me they needed fire in order to release their seed), as had much of the other flora and fauna.
     
  10. Darryl of Sussex

    Darryl of Sussex Full Member

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    For the record, I tend to think anyone who argues from a purely ideological standpoint to be necessarily narrow minded and people accepting (often purely emotively) and acting on ideologies as facts, with no real understanding of anything beyond what they’ve been told, also fall within that. I don’t care what colour their hair is ;)

    I’m one of those people who would wield a chainsaw as much as I might admire a tree. (Hugging trees is a bizarre thing to do unless appropriately dressed (Anjuna market, Goa has such clothing outlets) and scented with Patchouli oil.)

    As this issue has crossed my path, I’m going to enquire about volunteering with ESFRS to see what I could find myself doing and not doing. I suspect it will be manning the ESFRS community outreach 4x4m2 gazebo at events in parks but ya never know.
     
  11. Woody girl

    Woody girl Full Member

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    Rake Finland green .... oh my gosh! I was nearly sick with laughter! I love the pssh take of Mr T! Hilarious! Thank you . I'm still bursting into giggles hours later.
     
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  12. Woody girl

    Woody girl Full Member

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    Darryl if you do join the fire brigade you will get a lot of very useful training in all sorts of skills. Round here we have retained firemen who train a couple of evenings a week. They have normal jobs but are trained in river and flood rescue as well as being first responders. You will also learn to deal with car accidents and extraction of injured from cars. I'm not sure you could say only call on me for wildfires. They would expect you to be available for any emergency. There is also quite a comprehensive fitness requirement . But if you do decide to go for it you will have my admiration. There may be volunteer fire fighters in your area for wildfires but you might find they want to train you up for any eventuality as it costs lots to train people up. Good luck mate.
     
  13. Darryl of Sussex

    Darryl of Sussex Full Member

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    I hadn’t considered joining until it was mentioned earlier. I’ll have a chat with them soon and see where it leads and if being 50 means anything. Thanks very much for the support as a little goes a long way. :)


    “In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees”
     
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  14. Woody girl

    Woody girl Full Member

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    Mmmm 50 you say. I once dated a fireman and I seem to recall they have a mandatory retirement age of about 50 yrs old. I may be wrong but I vaguely recall a conversation about this with him. Don't let this dissuade you though. Manning the local fete fundraising stall is not as heroic but just as important a contribution and you might find other roles as well. Hope you find a role that suits.
     
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  15. MrEd

    MrEd Native

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    I quite like bracken as it makes a comfy bed, gorse I don’t like either, less comfy to sleep in!
     
  16. Darryl of Sussex

    Darryl of Sussex Full Member

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    Maybe a ‘Rake for England’ campaign? ‘Your Countryside Needs You!’

    If ESFRS need a campaign organiser, I think I could put a reasonable dent in that budget for them :)
     
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  17. Woody girl

    Woody girl Full Member

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    Gorse makes good wine though.... if you don't mind colanders for fingers when you pick it. ! The flowers are a lovely addition to a wild salad and are a good source of pollen for bees. Slightly to tongue in cheek I say ... don't like gorse it's nasty and prickly and is a dangerous in wildfires. B****r the bees,... lovely perfume in the air on a summer day,.......the cheerful blaze of colour on a dank day,....the delicious wine... let's just get rid of it! There is always a positive if you look. I love gorse.... though I wouldn't sleep on it for sure! Na st prickly stuff:)
     
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  18. Nice65

    Nice65 Full Member

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    Gorse logs burn beautifully. I’d much rather see gorse land cleared carefully than burned or mulched and the logs stacked up. Ready for me to have a quiet word with the conservation volunteers about filling the back of the car. A pocket full of home made biltong can go a long way in these situations :)
     
    #58 Nice65, Mar 3, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2019
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  19. Darryl of Sussex

    Darryl of Sussex Full Member

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    What’s all this about sleeping?! Take up your rakes people!
     
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  20. Janne

    Janne M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)

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    How does gorse wood look like?
     

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