People Reminded Not To Light Fires When Visiting Islands Off Northland This Summer
Fire and Emergency New Zealand is urging people not to light fires on islands that are public conservation land this summer following campfires being lit on Motumaire near Paihia, and Waewaetorea in the outer Bay of Islands.
This comes after several large fires have occurred in recent years on nearby Moturua and Manawatāwhi/Three Kings Islands off Cape Reinga.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) manages the islands stretching from the Manawatāwhi/Three Kings Islands to the Hen and Chickens Islands off Bream Bay, with concentrations in the Bay of Islands, near Whangaroa Harbour, and the Cavalli Islands.
DOC does not allow the lighting of fires on any islands they manage in Northland, a stance supported by Fire and Emergency.
Fire and Emergency’s Northland District Manager, Wipari Henwood, says we are expecting an El Niño weather pattern this summer, meaning hotter, drier, and windier conditions are predicted.
"This heightens the fire risk across Aotearoa.
"Our islands pose unique challenges when it comes to the risk of fire and fire control measures. Being offshore they can sometimes receive less rainfall and stronger winds which dries out vegetation faster than on the mainland.
"If fire escapes, it can quickly become uncontrollable, and being surrounded by water makes a quick firefighting response difficult," he says.
Wipari Henwood would like the public to understand the risks of lighting fires on islands this summer.
"Fire safety can become less of a priority during recreational boating activities, including landing and activities on islands.
"Additionally, people often believe that a fire on the beach is safe at any time - which it’s not as hot embers can rise and land on nearby grass or vegetation starting a wildfire. We really encourage everyone to think twice before lighting a fire in these areas as we head into summer."
Department of Conservation Bay of Islands Operations Manager, Bronwyn Bauer-Hunt, says fires are not allowed on islands that are public conversation land at any time.
"Our islands have special biodiversity values and are home to threatened plant and animal species, some of which only exist in a few places. Wildfire can be devastating to these native ecosystems," she says.
A lot of these islands are also pest free so checking your boat for any rodent stowaways or unwanted pests is a good idea. Dogs are not permitted on islands managed by DOC as they disturb or threaten wildlife.
Fire and Emergency reminds everyone that before lighting a fire anywhere this summer to check the fire danger level at www.checkitsalright.nz.