Attenborough praises Saddleworth Moor fire marshal scheme

Sir David Attenborough
Image caption Sir David Attenborough has wished a volunteer group "every success" in their efforts to protect the countryside

Sir David Attenborough has praised a group of volunteers who have offered to patrol sprawling moorland to prevent wildfires from destroying the area.

More than 100 people have signed up to the safety marshal scheme to protect Dovestone Reservoir and surrounding Saddleworth Moor area this summer.

The area of "outstanding natural beauty" has been repeatedly ravaged by fires - most recently in April.

Sir David described the scheme as a "most valuable initiative".

In a handwritten letter to the group, the presenter and naturalist wished volunteers "every success" ahead of their first patrol on 9 June.

The scheme, which requires volunteers to work in pairs, observe and alert the authorities of any issues, was launched last month by Dovestone Women's Institute (WI) with the support of the emergency services.

Members of Greenfield Neighbourhood Crime Watch will also help in a bid to prevent further "catastrophic" harm to nesting birds, heathers, wildlife and grazing ewes through the lambing season.

Image copyright Dovestone W.I.
Image caption The handwritten note from Sir David Attenborough praised the group's efforts

WI president Jessica Moreland, 46, decided to write to Sir David to highlight how volunteers feel the same way about the planet as the climate change campaigner.

"The more fires we experience, the more helpless we feel as a community," she said.

"The pressure that our local fire service and Mountain Rescue are under to keep our wildlife and us safe is mounting."

The WI president said she was delighted to receive a response from Sir David.

"It was short and sweet but it was lovely that he had taken the time to reply," said the mum-of-two.

"We just wanted to show him that we are doing our best to look after our little corner of the world."

Dave Swallow, from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, said that the enthusiasm of volunteers had been "brilliant" so far, adding that he hopes their presence will help to reduce the risk of moorland fires.

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