Healthy Hillsides is a social and environmental initiative designed to combat the devastating impact that wildfires have on the landscape, wildlife, and communities of the South Wales Valleys each year.

The Healthy Hillsides project is a Welsh Government-funded partnership programme designed to reduce the impact of wildfires across the South Wales Valleys. This is a collaborative project, bringing together South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, along with Natural Resources Wales, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and the Wildlife Trust for South and West Wales.

We aim to work with communities to create a sense of ownership of their local area by supporting them to take practical steps around their homes and gardens to reduce their risk from wildfires.

We’re prioritising education and new firefighting techniques to minimise the devastation wildfires cause when they burn. Healthy Hillsides is committed to enhancing the mosaic habitats that are unique to the South Wales Valleys, working with land owners and managers to adopt plans that are equally beneficial to both them and the communities that neighbour their sites.

With our intervention, we can regenerate the Valleys’ hillsides to create safer green spaces that benefit the communities that live on them.

Wildfire facts:

  • Peak fire season is generally between March and May.
  • Over 60% of wildfires occur between 4pm and midnight.
  • Setting deliberate grass fires will get you a criminal record for life. Those who are caught deliberately setting grass fires could be punished with up to two years in prison or receive a £5,000 fine.
  • Over the last 20 years, there have been 76,000 wildfires across the South Wales Valleys – 96% of these wildfires were deliberately set.
  • Between March ’20 and March ’21, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service were called to 1,053 deliberate wildfires, with 297 of these in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Wildfire has been officially recognised as a major UK hazard, with its inclusion in the National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies. The annual cost of fighting wildfires in the UK is £55 million.

Our work

Healthy Hillsides promotes using different ways to manage the landscape to prevent wildfires; this includes using innovative machinery such as fully equipped ATV’s, 4×4’s and a helicopter. Since the beginning of the project, Healthy Hillsides has funded land management equipment such as brush cutters and robo-mowers to support South Wales Fire and Rescue Service to carry out their commitment to land management.

As well as looking to the future for wildfire prevention techniques, we’re also taking inspiration from the past. Heavy horses are used to roll and cut bracken, delivering an extremely effective, environmentally-friendly alternative to machinery.

Along with taking proactive steps to minimise the destruction wildfires cause, Healthy Hillsides also funds fire fighting equipment. The project has supported Wales’ only fire fighting helicopter to buy a ‘snorkel’ – a hose-like tool that the helicopter uses to fill its water tank by siphoning water from lakes, rivers, or other sources.

Firewise Cymru

Firewise Cymru is a programme which empowers neighbours and communities to take responsibility and work together to reduce their risk from wildfires.

Firewise Cymru will support individuals and groups to create safer, stronger, and wildfire-wise communities. Through our education, prevention and response framework, we’re encouraging communities to take practical steps in the area around their home and garden, to reduce their risk of being adversely affected by a wildfire.

Some of the benefits of being a Firewise Cymru Community are:

  • Makes your own home and neighbours more resilient to wildfire.
  • Helps to build community resilience and good citizenship.
  • Communities are proactive in reducing their risk from wildfires.
  • Communities learn more about wildfire.
  • Gives the community a plan to work to..

In your area

Firewise Cymru is currently working with three communities within South Wales:

  • Hengoed, Caerphilly
  • Gurnos, Merthyr Tydfil
  • Llantrisant, Rhondda Cynon Taf

We’re hoping to recruit more Firewise Cymru Communities in the near future. If you think your area would benefit from becoming Firewise, email:

We have resources to help residents follow simple Firewise Cymru advice to reduce the risk of fire damage to their property from a wildfire.

Click the links below to access and save for future reference.

Firewise Cymru Leaflet