With devastating scenes of wildfires raging over Saddleworth Moor in the news this week, the National Sheep Association (NSA) is warning of the increased risk of similar disasters if proposals to re-wild many of the UK's upland areas are pursued.

Combined risk factors of predicted climate change and weather patterns with removal of grazing animals that have in the past protected uplands from out-of-control fires by creating natural firebreaks could mean the fires causing distress amongst people living and working in the area could become more widespread.

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker said: "Wildfires are becoming more common across the UK, in part due to a loss of grazing animals and an increase in high volumes of dry vegetation. The result is causing immense environmental damage including the loss of peat and release of carbon into the atmosphere, the destruction of mammals and young birds, the potential loss of domesticated animals and of course, a risk to human health.

"The grazed nature of most of our uplands has, in the past, protected us from out-of-control fires, meaning that when fires occur as they inevitably will, they are short lived and relatively easy to get under control. This is a practical example of how sheep farming has an integral relationship with our planet and connects our landscape, our people and our wildlife and environment through natural and traditional land management whilst also producing food and fibre from plants and regions that would not otherwise feed and clothe us."

Market round-up

Messrs Craig Wilson Ltd sold 50 store heifers at Ayr on Thursday to a top of £1160 per head and 223.2p per kg to average £725.70 and 203.6p (-23.5p on the fortnight), while 122 store beef-bred bullocks peaked at £1350 and 258.2p to level at £905.18 and 221.4p (-13.7p). Twenty-nine store, B&W bullocks sold to £1025 and 190.2p to average £743.45 and 172.5p (+3.4p).

C&D Auction Marts Ltd sold 827 prime lambs in Longtown on Thursday to a top of £128 per head and 266p per kg to average 219.2p (-13.8p on the week).

A bigger show of 3528 cast sheep saw heavy ewes sell to £178 for a Texel and average £95.55 (+£3.65), while light/export-type ewes peaked at £87 for Blackfaces and levelled at £55.63 (+£2.81). Rams sold to £143 for a Texel and averaged £89.45.