Incredible photos reveal the damage done by the drought to the iconic Dunstable Downs

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The National Trust has issued a plea for people to take care to protect the landscape

Amazing pictures taken three months apart have revealed the impact of the drought on Dunstable Downs.

The National Trust, which owns the Downs, posted the amazing pictures on Facebook, while warning visitors of the risks of fires in the area.

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The Trust said: “While colour changes are normal in chalk grassland, the recent heatwaves have had a big impact on our environment and fire risk is high.

How the drought has affected Dunstable Downs. PIC: Lisa ManningHow the drought has affected Dunstable Downs. PIC: Lisa Manning
How the drought has affected Dunstable Downs. PIC: Lisa Manning

“Please help to protect Dunstable Downs by not lighting fires or BBQs, not smoking and ensuring that any glass is disposed of appropriately.”

The pictures, taken by Lisa Manning, show a verdant green landscape taken in June, followed by a brown landscape taken in August after months of very little rain and extreme temperatures.

Commenting on the photos, one person said the August picture looked like it could have been taken on Africa.

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Dunstable Downs is within the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the highest point in Bedfordshire.

A green and pleasant Dunstable Downs, captured in June by Lisa ManningA green and pleasant Dunstable Downs, captured in June by Lisa Manning
A green and pleasant Dunstable Downs, captured in June by Lisa Manning
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A spokesman for the National Trust said: “We want people to enjoy being outdoors in nature, and we know that picnicking is a great way to do this. With a changing climate, the danger of wildfires is increasing and barbecues can have serious consequences.

“We are keenly aware of the damage disposable barbeques can cause when not used responsibly and we continue to do all we can on our own land, including working closely with local communities, councils and stakeholders to encourage sensible behaviour and promote the Countryside Code. We want people to enjoy our parks, countryside and coast, but not at the expense of damaging landscapes and wildlife and putting lives at risk.

“The recent weather brings into sharp focus the practical challenges of dealing with a warming planet.

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“Whilst we're continuing to welcome people to National Trust places, we're asking everyone to take precautions to protect themselves and nature and wildlife too. Extreme heat and a lack of rain puts the countryside under severe pressure and swathes of land are incredibly dry. Wildfires have reaped significant damage to National Trust places in the last few years, and whilst our teams are on high alert to any risks, we're calling on everyone to help by reporting any fires immediately to fire services on 999.”

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