AFTER news that parts of Monmouthshire face an “exceptional” risk of wildfires due to an amber heat warming, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has issued advice to help mitigate the risk.

The Met Office has raised the Fire Severity Index to exceptional – the highest level – for much of southern England, and stretching as far west as Abergavenny, for this coming Sunday.

Temperatures could reach as high as 36 degrees, according to Met Office predictions.

It comes as the driest first seven months of the year in decades and hot spells have left parts of the UK facing looming drought, prompting hosepipe bans and warnings about the impact on agriculture, rivers and wildlife.

Haf Leyshon, NRW's Healthy Hillsides Project officer said: “As temperatures increase across Wales, so does the risk of grass and forest fires. 

“Whether accidental or set deliberately, fires can cause significant damage to communities, biodiversity, wildlife and habitats. The financial costs can also be extensive.

“Along with our Healthy Hillside partners in South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Mid and West Wales Fires and Rescue Service, and The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, our officers have been working throughout the year, to manage vegetation fuel levels and cut fire breaks at identified wildfire hotspots.

“This intervention, will help us to mitigate the risk of fire, so should a wildfire occur, it remains contained and can be most effectively extinguished by the Fire and Rescue Services, and protect communities and our landscapes in that area.

“If you’re visiting our sites or the countryside over the coming days, please act responsibly by following the Countryside Code – don’t light campfires or BBQs, dispose your cigarettes safely and take litter home.”

NRW also stress that, should you spot a wildfire, or see anyone deliberately starting a fire, make sure you get to a safe place and then dial 999 and ask for the fire service.

The Healthy Hillsides project is a collaborative approach to wildfire management in the South Wales valleys.

Initially established in 2015, Healthy Hillsides is steered by four partners; South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Natural Resources Wales, The Wildlife Trust for South and West Wales and Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council.