A NEW campaign has been launched to remind the public that barbecues are illegal on heathlands.
Litter Free Dorset, the Urban Heath Partnership and Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service have announced the launch of new the campaign, ‘BBQs Burn More Than Bangers’, to prevent wildfire.
Heathlands, unfortunately, are often misused and incidents of arson – whether deliberate or accidental – are becoming more common. On average, Dorset is subject to more than 100 heathland wildfires a year, a high proportion of these can be attributed to a heathland barbecue gone wrong.
The fire service has already put out a warning to stay safe and vigilant during the current dry weather spell following an amber wildfire alert.
The new campaign aims to raise awareness that it is illegal to barbecue on heathland and instead promote the use of alternative, safe, designated barbecuing destinations.
Why is it so important?
Dorset’s 8,500 hectares of heathlands are one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the UK and are home to thousands of species of flora and fauna, plus 450 species that are recognised as rare, threatened or protected.
Found on the heathlands are 12 known bat species, all six native species of reptile as well as smaller birds and raptors, including the Dartford warblers, nightjars, hen harriers, merlins and ospreys.
Rare insects and invertebrates also habitat on the heathland, including the regionally distinct Purbeck mason wasp, ladybird spider, heath tiger beetle and heath bee-fly.
Located around the fringes of many of Dorset’s heathlands are residential areas. Heathland wildfire can really impact the health and safety of these local communities, due to residents having to evacuate, fire damage to properties and risk of lives lost.
In 2011 a large wildfire on Upton Heath damaged 250 acres of heathland, resulted in the evacuation of local residents and required the mobilisation of 185 firefighters and 30 fire engines. The fire resulted in the destruction of 250 acres of heathland, killing thousands of species of flora and fauna, damaging properties and injuring four firemen.
The organisations behind the campaign want to help protect both the rare heathland wildlife and the livelihoods of those living nearby Dorset’s fantastic heathlands by reminding the public that it is illegal to barbecue on a heathland and to use an alternative, designated safe barbecuing site instead.
How you can get involved and help reduce fires
You can help by not barbecuing on Dorset’s heathlands – either pack a picnic or visit one of the suggested, designated barbecuing spots instead, which you can find on the Litter Free Dorset website www.litterfreedorset.co.uk
Other ways to support the campaign are as follows:
- Follow the campaign via social media @LitterFreeDrst Share, Like, Comment!
- Share your favourite BBQ pics #BBQsBurnMoreThanBangers #SpreadLoveNotWildfire
- Print off a poster from our resource hub to stick in your window at home, in your shop or in your car!
- Report any illegal heathland barbecues that you see!
- If you see a fire on heathland, report it immediately. Please phone the fire service on 999 and leave the area as soon as possible.