The north of Scotland is enduring an increased risk of wildfire after one of the hottest Aprils on record, the fire service has warned.
And with weather forecasters predicting dry conditions to continue in the Highlands, the Scottish National Heritage and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service are urging land managers and the public to take extra care.
The risk of wildfires is currently at its peak for the year and local estate keepers and the fire service have already been called in to help extinguish blazes.
While the muirburn season is closed, fires can start from other causes such as garden bonfire sparks, sky lanterns or cast-aside cigarette butts.
Adam Rose, a Scottish National Heritage manager, said: “We are appealing to local communities and those planning on taking their daily recreation at Loch Fleet to be aware of the current high fire risk and help us to avoid fires.
“A fire at Loch Fleet would not only cause significant damage to the reserve’s nationally and internationally important habitats and species but also potentially harm local residents and businesses that surround the reserve, as well as placing an unnecessary strain on emergency services.”
SFRS Sutherland district manager Jason Gardiner added: “Many rural and remote communities are hugely impacted by wildfires which can cause significant environmental and economic damage.
“How people behave can significantly lower the chance of a wildfire starting, so it’s crucial everyone acts safely and responsibly in rural environments.”
The public can help prevent wildfires in the Highlands by making sure they dispose of litter and smoking materials carefully while in rural areas, as well as being particularly careful when burning garden waste.
Advice can be found by visiting the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service website at www.firescotland.gov.uk.