Date: 20 December 2012
Enjoy your holidays in the great outdoors but take extra care to prevent wild fires on conservation land this summer says the Department of Conservation.
People are urged to inform themselves about fire rules and local fire restrictions and conditions before heading out into parks, reserves and back country areas to camp and recreate over the holidays. Wild fires can put lives and property at risk and damage the natural environment.
A recent blaze in the Manawatu Gorge Scenic Reserve, believed to be caused by fireworks, shows how easily wild fires start. The fire was brought under control but could have been worse had conditions been drier.
Another fire last month that burned 500 hectares in the Waituna Wetland Scientific Reserve in Southland caused significant damage to wildlife and plants in the internationally renowned wetland.
With a long hot summer predicted, the fire risk is set to increase and holiday makers need to take special care to prevent wild fires, says DOC Canterbury fire officer, Tony Teeling.
“Most fires on conservation land start in nearby access ways and areas such as roads, river beds, tracks and campsites. It only takes one spark or careless flick of a cigarette to start a fire.”
Those camping or tramping in conservation areas should take their own portable fuel stoves for cooking.
People using 4WD vehicles should ensure they are well maintained and carry fire equipment such as a fire extinguisher and shovel.
While fire danger in Canterbury is generally moderate at present, areas on Banks Peninsula and in the North Canterbury foothills are drier. There have been a number of fires over the last month in these areas, says Mr Teeling, some caused by controlled fires being reignited in hot nor-westerly winds.
Uncontrolled wild fires can devastate natural areas, which may never recover. The costs of fighting a fire can run into the hundreds of thousands and be passed on to those shown to be responsible for causing it.
DOC is the Rural Fire Authority responsible for preventing and controlling fire on public conservation land, all unoccupied crown land (including crown riverbeds) and within one kilometre of these lands.