VISITORS to the Capital’s parks and open spaces have been warned against anti-social behaviour after it emerged people have been dragging bins into remote locations and setting them on fire.
The latest fad recently saw a total of 12 wheelie bins brought to the top of Corstorphine Hill and set alight in the space of just one week during the Easter holiday period.
Now those who look after the city’s green spaces are urging people to make sure they think of others as the city enters the long summer vacation.
Natural heritage officer David Kyles, 37, has been looking after the city’s parks and woodland areas for around 12 years, a job which sees him regularly out carrying out inspections and small-scale repairs.
As well as barbecues and carelessly discarded cigarettes, he explained fires were often the result of anti-social behaviour, especially in the school holidays.
He said: “The Easter holidays tend to be the kick off point for us right up until September and October.
“The latest fad seems to be dragging household recycling bins to remote sites and setting them on fire.
“Some of these fires burn down into the organic matter – they can burn literally for weeks if not for months.”
Mr Kyles urged anyone lighting a fire to “act responsibly”, adding: “Fires can be devastating in parks and other more rural and upland areas.
“The breeding season for birds, between March and July and sometimes seasonally later, is a particularly vulnerable time for nesting birds, especially those that nest on or close to the ground.
“Fires that devastate areas can pose knock-on problems whereby small mammal populations can be significantly harmed, posing localised food shortage, loss of shelter and other sources of food and the general loss of habitat.”
Corstorphine Hill and Easter Craiglockhart Hill local nature reserves and Colinton Dell have all been named a potentially vulnerable areas due to their popularity for picnics, barbeques and campfires.
Kenneth Rogers, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) local senior officer for Edinburgh, said grass fires have the potential to burn for days and devastate both land and wildlife.
He said: “Human behaviour can significantly lower the chance of a wildfire starting so it’s crucial people act safely and responsibly in rural environments and follow the countryside code.
“Grass and wildfires are a common risk at this time of year when warmer weather dries out vegetation and grassland – which offers an ample fuel source.
“Just one heat source like a campfire ember can cause it to ignite and the if the wind changes direction even the smallest fire can spread uncontrollably and devastate entire hillsides.
“In the unfortunate instance that a fire is set deliberately, SFRS resources can be diverted from real emergencies.
“Through robust strategic planning we will always be able to respond to an emergency, however the fact remains that these fires can present a very real danger to our communities.
“The SFRS works closely with the local authority, communities and other safety partners to prevent these incidents ever occurring.”
Lesley Macinnes, the council’s transport and environment leader, said: “In Edinburgh we are lucky to have such a wealth of parks and greenspaces, many of which offer areas of particular natural beauty and biodiversity.
“Of course it’s fantastic that residents and visitors to the Capital can enjoy these beautiful spaces but I would encourage the public to treat them care, ensuring they remain as welcoming to wildlife and people as they have always been.”