Enjoy a Forest barbeque safely

Ponies grazing on heathland

Published Friday 11 July 2014

It’s that time of year again when barbecues get lit and we get to enjoy the taste of summer.

However, a note of caution - in periods of hot, dry weather, especially in open areas of heathland, please be careful not to set fire to the forest.

Did you know that one carelessly discarded cigarette could cause a massive and dangerous fire which would destroy a large area of natural habitat, kill countless animals and endanger nearby properties?

Wildfires – the term used for uncontrolled, unwanted or unplanned fire - can develop very quickly and rapidly spread across very large areas. Their behaviour is unpredictable and can change direction very quickly jumping across roads and rivers. Virtually all wildfires are started by people, either accidentally or deliberately.

Nigel Matthews, Head of Recreation Management and Learning at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘With periods of warmer weather likely over the coming weeks, it is important that people are aware of the dangers of wildfires in the New Forest, especially in the open areas of heathland. Please be careful and remember that even the smallest ember or spark could cause a dangerous fire which would destroy wildlife habitats and endanger people’s homes.’

So, if you’re planning to enjoy a barbecue in the forest over the coming weeks how can you do so safely? We simply ask that you follow the Forest’s Safe Barbecue Code:

  • Static barbecue hearths are available for hire at Anderwood and Wilverley. If you are planning a barbecue for over 20 people then please book one of these sites. For more information please call 0300 067 4640 or visit www.forestry.gov.uk/newforest. To book a barbecue at Lepe Country Park call 023 8089 9108 or visit www.hants.gov.uk/lepe.
  • Disposable barbecues are welcome in the picnic areas at Bolderwood, Blackwater and Wilverley – please place them on the metal barbecue stands provided, either on, or beside the picnic tables. These barbecues pose a particular fire risk – please do not use them anywhere else in the forest.
  • Raised non disposable charcoal and gas barbecues may be used at specified car parks namely Anderwood, Bolderwood, Whitefield Moor, Wilverley Plain, Wilverley Inclosure and Hatchet Pond.
  • When fire risk is ‘extreme’ the use of barbecues anywhere in the New Forest is prohibited – look for posters, call us, or check our website www.forestry.gov.uk/newforest if you are unsure. Static barbecues at designated sites will still be allowed.
  • Make sure you have enough water to ensure your barbecue can be extinguished fully after use, and take barbecue waste home with you.

If you do happen to spot a wildfire then please call 999 immediately, try to give your exact location, including any landmarks and if possible meet the fire engine to give directions. At all times, keep the safety of yourself and your other forest visitors as a priority.

Please note that during winter and early spring, Forestry Commission staff deliberately burn substantial areas of the open forest to stop the heather and gorse getting too tall and old. These fires are well controlled and there are always trained fire-fighters on hand.

For a day-to-day update of the fire risk in the New Forest and to find other information, visit: www.forestry.gov.uk/newforest

Media Contact

Lisa Pearce, Communications Manager, Forestry Commission
Tel: 023 8028 6832
Email: lisa.pearce@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

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