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Heathlands largely escape serious harm during sizzling summer
DESPITE the glorious hot, dry summer encouraging more people out, Dorset’s heathlands largely escaped serious harm.
The Urban Heaths Partnership, which assesses the effect of fires and other incidents on the sensitive heathland sites across south east Dorset, has reported a better year.
From April to September there were 92 heathland fires across the south east of the county compared with 125 for the same period in 2011.
And there was a major reduction in the area of heath damaged by fire from 69.5 hectares in 2011 to 4.5 hectares in 2013. 2012 was a wet summer and the number of fires dramatically reduced.
This summer Ham Common at Hamworthy, Studland, Canford Heath and Bourne Bottom have suffered blazes, many said to be deliberate acts of arson.
The partnership, which includes councils, the police, fire service and conservation groups, provides education, wardening and monitoring on the heathland, which is home to all six species of British reptile, rare birds, insects and plants.
Its team works closely with Dorset Fire and Rescue, Dorset Police and land managers to try and reduce fires and antisocial behaviour on heathland sites and believes this work is paying off.
Jade North, senior area warden for the partnership said: “The partnership works closely together to share information, run education activities and patrol the areas to protect the heathlands.
“We are encouraged that local people are keen to help look after these important open spaces by being eyes and ears and reporting incidents.”
Paula Blizzard, inset left, from the partnership said: “If you see a fire or smoke on any heathland site get to safety and call 999. This year has shown an early call can help the fire service to get to the scene quickly and prevent the fire from being a large one.”
For more information go to dorsetforyou.com/dorsetheaths. Call Dorset Police on 101 if you have any information about anti-social behaviour on the heath.
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