As fires have destroyed homes across the country this week and temperatures are expected to rise further this weekend, the Urban Heaths Partnership (UHP), Litter Free Dorset (LFD) and Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) work together to raise awareness of the risk of forest fires on heathland and woodland.
There are now large banners around these sites reminding everyone that campfires and barbecues are not allowed on the moor sites.
On average, Dorset is subject to 107 moorland and forest fires a year. Disposable barbecues left behind while still hot are a known cause of these fires, as are campfires.
This campaign highlights that barbecues and fires are banned in moorland, woodland and many other high-risk areas in Dorset, including Wareham Forest where a fire in 2020 started from disposable barbecues and devastated 220 hectares of forest and moorland.
Mark Warn, Ranger, Forestry England, said: “Wareham Forest is one of the UK’s most important places for nature and conservation, with much of the wildlife found here having already disappeared from other parts of the country. It’s one of the few places where you can still find all six of the UK’s native reptiles, including the endangered smooth snake and sand lizard, and it’s home to many rare species of birds and insects.
“The wildfire here in 2020 showed how a place as special as this can be devastated so quickly by one careless act. We all have a part to play in forest fire prevention and one of the easiest ways is to leave the barbecue at home, they are not allowed and not welcome in the forest.
Group manager Dave Adamson, of the Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: ‘Although the forecast for hot and dry weather for the next few days is welcome, particularly with the arrival of the summer holidays, they greatly increase the risk of forest fires. Disposable barbecues left behind while still hot and campfires that are not extinguished properly are common causes of open fires, so we urge people not to use them when camping. traveling in our beautiful countryside.
Paul Attwell, Team Leader at Urban Heaths Partnership, said: “Heathland fires are devastating to people, wildlife and property, and working in partnership we are trying to reduce the number and size of these incidents. , but we will not succeed without the help of everyone who visits these sites. We therefore ask that you bring a picnic and not a barbecue and if you see a fire, get to safety and call 999, do not wait for someone else to make the call.
The Firewise project aims to help communities living near heathlands to mitigate the risk posed by wildfires to their properties.