Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Fire on the Llŷn!

While driving around the end of the peninsula the other day, we noticed that there were quite a few plumes of thick smoke rising from the upper areas of Mynydd Rhiw and its surrounding hills.

Alarming as these may seem, they are actually a normal occurrence around this time of year and are actually a deliberate tool of land management.  These slopes are covered in a distinctive mix of heather, bracken and gorse, which supports a unique mix of wildlife. Without a regular programme of burning the heather would first become woody and over grown, and then eventually be replaced by more and more shrubs and trees until the land reverted to forest which is the default state or "climax vegetation" for the British Isles. While woodland is, of course, attractive and desirable in itself with its own different mix of wildlife, maintaining the heather heathland in this way brings a rich variety to the landscape and enables it to support more and different wild species than it otherwise would. The fires generally move quickly and burn out fast, which prevents the soil and roots of the heather being damaged so it can quickly send up new green shoots. Traditionally these shoots were encouraged to provide food for shooting birds such as grouse, although I don't know if much shooting for sport goes on around here these days.

Usually only small sections are burnt at a time, giving rise to the stripes and patches of growth often seen on upland slopes. This allows wildlife to escape from a burning area.

1 comment:

  1. Being an animal lover, I am very happy to hear that wildlife have a chance to vacate the area during burning.