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Help to prevent wildfires in the New Forest

Help to prevent wildfires in the New Forest

PUBLISHED ON: 3 MAY 2019

People are being asked to do their bit to help prevent wild fires in the New Forest. The request, made by Forestry England and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, comes at a time when the Forest is on amber alert for severe wildfire conditions and follows a series of fires that broke out over the recent Easter holiday period.

Forestry England and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service attended eight fires across the New Forest over the Easter bank holiday, including one that damaged over 1,500 square metres of valuable habitat. Rangers and Keepers on patrol over the period also spoke with many people about how and where to use barbeques safely in the Forest and provided assistance to extinguish those that were unsafe and likely to get out of control.

Zoe Cox, Community Manager, for Forestry England’s team in the New Forest said: ‘Fires can start in the Forest for a number of reasons. People are often genuinely shocked by the scale of the risks even small barbeques or fires can pose. Placed directly on the ground they can burn and damage the Forest floor, and in peaty or dry areas heat can travel down through the earth undetected and pop up some distance away or travel up into a tree through its roots to start a fire. To help us protect the Forest from risks like these we are asking visitors to help us by following our barbeque code.’

The New Forest Safe Barbeque Code gives clear guidelines about how and where to use a barbeque in the Forest and how to minimise the fire risks.

• Disposable barbeques are only permitted at Bolderwood and Blackwater where there are special stands and water available. For large groups static barbeque hearths are available to hire at Anderwood and Wilverley.

• Non-disposable barbeques can be used in car parks, as long as they are raised off the ground on a stand, and only used on the hard standing (car park surface). Anyone using a barbeque must bring sufficient water with them to fully extinguish it after use, and takes it and any other rubbish away with them when they leave.

• Campfires or the burning of any wood from the Forest is not permitted. For anyone staying at a local campsite there are also clear guidelines on the use of barbeques and staff onsite can provide advice and support.

Steve Ash, New Forest Group Manager, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: ‘We ask the public to do their bit in helping us prevent these fires happening in the first place. What this means is taking everything away with you after a picnic or barbecue to ensure nothing is left behind that could start a fire. Also please make sure you only have a barbecue or light a fire in a designated area and that everything has been properly extinguished before you leave.’ He added: ‘In the unfortunate case of there being a fire we ask that you get to a place of safety and call 999 immediately so we can put it out before it does significant damage to the countryside we all enjoy.’

There are other important ways the public can help to reduce the risks of wild fires in the Forest including by not discarding cigarettes and disposing of smoking materials properly and making sure they are completely extinguished. The use of fireworks and sky lanterns are prohibited in the Forest.

People are also asked to ensure they park appropriately and observe parking signs. If a fire does break out it is essential that fire vehicles can gain access to the affected area as quickly as possible and are not prevented from fighting the fire by parked cars blocking gates or entrances.

The New Forest National Park Authority and the NFU have also given their support to the campaign to raise awareness of fires safety in the New Forest and wider countryside.

Paul Walton, Head of Environment and Rural Economy at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘We’ve experienced yet another dry spring and there is once more a heightened risk of fire in the countryside. We’d appeal to everyone not to light fires in the countryside. We are also asking people not to release sky lanterns or fireworks that could land in the Forest and set fire to the landscape. The risk of wildfire is severe and consequences devastating, particularly on heathland in the New Forest with its rare and sensitive ecosystems.’

For more information about the New Forest Safe Barbeque Code please visit: www.forestryengland.uk/barbecues-the-new-forest

ENDS

Notes to Editor

1. Forestry England manages and cares for the nation’s 1,500 woods and forests, with over 230 million visits per year. As England’s largest land manager, we shape landscapes and are enhancing forests for people to enjoy, wildlife to flourish and businesses to grow. For more information visit forestryengland.uk. Forestry England is an agency of the Forestry Commission

2. About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect – Enjoy – Prosper
The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:
-Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park – Protect.
-Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:
Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.
Visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk to find out more.

3. The NFU is the voice of British farming and provides professional representation and services to its farmer and grower members.

Media Contact:
Susan Smith
Media Officer, South Forest District, Forestry England
Tel: 0300 067 4123 Mobile: 07384 878434
susan.smith@forestryengland.uk

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