Over the last year, the NGO have been working with various other organisations to help develop a Defra-funded course for wildfire suppression and prescribed fire operations

Over the last year, the NGO have been working with various other organisations to help develop a Defra-funded course for wildfire suppression and prescribed fire operations.

We know that gamekeepers’ experience of heather burning is second to none and the knowledge they have has been handed down through the decades. So it is understandable for keepers to ask why they need further training to carry out prescribed burning or for wildfire prevention. The problem is that this experience is not tangible, which makes it hard to measure. How do gamekeepers prove that they are sufficiently competent to set fire to pristine moorland when owners require evidence to justify licences, insurance and contracts?

Accreditation, where you can demonstrate to an assessor your knowledge, skills and ability, is now critical for any robust wildfire mitigation plan. Similarly, you need to achieve a qualification or accreditation to be a loader, use a strimmer, a knapsack sprayer, use a quadbike. Having that training can both prove competency, and improve your own skills.

The NGO’s development officer for the uplands attended the new wildfire suppression and prescribed fire operation course alongside full-time NGO upland gamekeepers and delegates from large organisations, all acting as guinea pigs for the course. The seven NGO delegates who attended had, between them, over 70 years’ experience of keepering and hundreds of hours of fire suppression and burning.

At the end of the three days, they all felt the course to be a positive step forward for our sector. The modules were challenging, they felt that their level of understanding was increased effectively, and they had learned new ways of using old practices.

They concluded that not promoting the courses would be a missed opportunity for gamekeepers, no matter how much experience they might have.

Here are further details on the new courses, as well as information on the free training which is being offered by Defra:  

Last April Defra supported the development of a new training program, designed to consolidate knowledge, skills and understanding of vegetation fires including wildfire events. Within the first year over 130 people in the land management sector have benefited from four Lantra Accredited training packages, increasing our combined preparedness for the risk of wildfire and improving prescribed burning operations and planning. 

Defra is offering 120 FREE training places this year, for people who work on and manage land in areas at risk of a wildfire. 

If you are interested in finding out more about the training courses and applying for FREE training places, please contact heatherandgrassburning@defra.gov.uk for an information pack.

 

 

 

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