The RSPB and Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) are urging the public to help prevent wildfires in Cumbria’s RSPB nature reserves and surrounding countryside this summer.

After 2023 being the world’s hottest year, the Met Office predicts 2024 as another year of high temperatures, heightening the risk of heatwaves and fires across the country.

RSPB is reminding visitors that barbecues and campfires are not allowed on their reserves, but visitors may bring their own picnic spreads.

Glen Swainson, senior site manager at RSPB Geltsdale, said: "We are really grateful for the care and caution that most of our visitors take when exploring our Cumbrian nature reserves and wider countryside.

"However, fires can be started by items that people wouldn’t even consider a risk.

"The use of disposable barbecues are not allowed at RSPB sites as they are an obvious fire risk for greenspaces, but even a glass drinks bottle left in dry heather, grasses or leaves can start a fire on a sunny day."

Many wildlife species, including the ground nesting birds like Golden Plover, Curlew, and Ring Ouzel, are vulnerable to wildfires, making it pivotal for the public to exercise utmost caution.

According to Lauren Woodward, area manager for service delivery at CFRS, wildfires can ruin local ecosystems in a matter of hours that had taken years to build up.

She said: "Every wildfire starts with human intervention, whether that’s carelessness or a deliberate act, so we need everyone who enjoys our beautiful open spaces to work with us to help protect them.”