An increase in wildfires around the world should act as a warning for potential large-scale fires in New Zealand forests and rural landscapes this summer… NZ Institute of Forestry President James Treadwell, says there is an urgent need to prioritise at-risk land management issues over deployment of firefighting aircraft and building more fire trucks. James Treadwell says areas covered by self-sown exotics or retired hill and high country tussock grasslands are most at risk. He says traditionally these were burned every seven to 10 years by lease-holding farmers but this is no longer the case. In 2020, wildfires destroyed 5043ha of self-sown exotics and 5088ha of tussock grassland in 2019. He says the shift from a La Niña to an El Niño weather pattern will significantly elevate fire danger levels, and he is urging Fire and Emergency New Zealand to collaborate with landowners and forestry professionals to reduce fuel loadings in the hill and high country environment.
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