Edinburgh communities take drastic measures to prevent future wildfires on Blackford Hill after the record temperatures of past summers

The gorse bushes were deliberately set alight in a controlled burning (Credit: Friends of Hermitage Braid and Blackford Hill)

Gorse plants have been deliberately burned on Blackford Hill as conservationists attempt to prevent severe wildfires.

Wildfires have become more common in Edinburgh’s green areas due to hotter and drier summers.

Members from the Friends of Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill and the Lothians Conservation Trust lit the flames together with the aim of reducing the spread of the highly flammable plant.

“We are doing this now, mainly due to the fact it is before bird nesting season and is very wet, to prevent the fire spreading out of control,” Edinburgh conservationist Geoff Cantly told EN4 News.

“The majority of fires in summer are due to malicious fire raising. We found multiple bags of bottles which may [have been] fuel.”

Gorse is a common shrub covered in needle-like leaves and yellow flowers in spring and summer, and it has been fitted with firebreaks in order to limit the blaze’s size and ensure it could be easily extinguished.

Eyewitnesses to one fire on Blackford Hill in July 2018 reported seeing huge flames from over a mile away, while an inferno on Arthur’s seat in the same year required a team of 30 firefighters to put it out.

July last year saw temperatures of 31.6C – the highest-ever recorded in the city.

A recent report by researchers from Edinburgh and Oxford universities warned that exceptional summers could become “quite common” unless there are substantial cuts in CO2 emissions.

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