FLS ranger assaulted over fire warning
Forestry and Land Scotland is calling for more to be done to highlight the responsibilities that go with access rights after a ranger was assaulted for asking that a campfire be extinguished.
The incident happened in Tentsmuir forest, which was affected last week (Thursday 25 May) by a wildfire - started by a campfire – that required SFRS crews from three areas to attend. Helicopter assistance was also needed to help douse the flames. Fire crews only left the scene on Saturday morning.
In responding to an alert from a member of the public, an FLS ranger advised two campers in the forest on Wednesday of the heightened fire risk and asked them to extinguish their campfire.
The request was refused and the ranger, when confronted with aggressive and abusive behaviour, left the scene and advised the couple that Police Scotland would be contacted. The Ranger was followed to his vehicle and had to leave the carpark when his vehicle was attacked.
David Leven, FLS’ East Region Manager, said;
“Unfortunately, this sort of unacceptable attitude and behaviour is becoming more of an issue for our rangers and for the staff from other organisations.
“For this to happen soon after Tentsmuir was damaged by a wildfire and when a much larger wildfire at Cannich has been burning for over a week is hugely frustrating and disappointing .
“We are there to protect and look after our forests and woodlands, to promote access and to make sure that members of the public are safe.
“Most people know how to look after the countryside and themselves but there are some that aren’t as aware as they should be that their right of access requires that they act responsibly.
“With the underbrush and land being exceptionally dry, the risk of wildfire is even greater than normal and no-one should be taking any chances with campfires.”
Police Scotland have been made aware of the incident.
Campfires are strongly discouraged at any time of year and in any location.
If camping stoves are used at any time, they should be situated away from tents and other camping gear and away from dry underbrush and grass. Ideally they should also sit on a level, non-flammable surface and be made as stable as possible using rocks (where possible) or other support.
The recent wildfires comes less than a month after FLS launched (9 May) its ‘Protect Scotland’s Wildlife’ campaign, that urges forest visitors to be more mindful of the negative impacts their activities could have on wildlife and the environment.
A survey carried out prior to the launch found that just over 2 in 5 (41%) hadn’t considered the impact of lighting fires, or even that collecting deadwood off the forest floor for a small campfire, can disturb delicate environments and ecosystems.
Notes to editors
- Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) manages forests and land owned by Scottish Ministers in a way that supports and enables economically sustainable forestry; conserves and enhances the environment; delivers benefits for people and nature; and supports Scottish Ministers in their stewardship of Scotland's national forests and land.