Often misused, heathland areas are seeing wildfires, whether deliberate or accidental, becoming more common. On average, Dorset is subject to over 100 heathland wildfires a year, a high proportion of these can be attributed to a heathland barbecue gone wrong.
This campaign aims to raise awareness that it is illegal to barbecue on heathland and promotes the use of alternative, safe, designated barbecuing destinations.
Why it’s 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 inhabit 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.
Litter Free Dorset in collaboration with the Uurban Heath Partnership and Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service 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. You can help protect the heathlands too.
How to get involved and help to reduce fires
Help by not barbecuing on Dorset’s heathlands – either pack a picnic or visit one of our suggested, designated barbecuing spots instead. Find the suggested spots and hot barbecuing tips on the Litter Free Dorset website.
Litter Free Dorset would like to invite everyone to support #BBQsBurnMoreThanBangers campaign.
- 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 bbqs 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.
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