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National Trust urges people not to bring barbecues on visits to the countryside

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More people have started taking barbecues to the countryside since lockdown measures started to ease, increasing the risk of wildfires, the National Trust warned. 

Park rangers have also seen a notable increase in the amount of litter being left behind by visitors, saying this poses a threat to wildlife who get caught up in it.

There is a real risk of wildfires and a number have already broken out across the country due to a record-breaking sunny spring leaving landscapes dry.

As people flock to enjoy countryside and coastal beauty spots, the National Trust is urging them not to bring a barbecue or light a campfire and take their trash away. 

BBQ at Marsden Moor. More people have started taking barbecues to the countryside since lockdown measures started to ease, increasing the risk of wildfires, the National Trust warned

BBQ at Marsden Moor. More people have started taking barbecues to the countryside since lockdown measures started to ease, increasing the risk of wildfires, the National Trust warned

Litter left on the Formby Beach sand dunes. Rangers said they have seen an increase in litter and people using disposable barbecues or making fires, causing a problem when combined with a dry spring

Litter left on the Formby Beach sand dunes. Rangers said they have seen an increase in litter and people using disposable barbecues or making fires, causing a problem when combined with a dry spring

Litter left on the Formby Beach sand dunes. Despite some recent rainfall, the record-breaking sunny spring has left many landscapes dry and at risk of fires starting and spreading quickly, they said

Litter left on the Formby Beach sand dunes. Despite some recent rainfall, the record-breaking sunny spring has left many landscapes dry and at risk of fires starting and spreading quickly, they said

The trust has seen several large blazes on its land since the start of April, including one at Froward Point, Devon, on May 24 which was started by a barbecue.

That blaze took six fire engines and a police helicopter to extinguish.

Another fire, with an unknown origin broke out at Thurstaston Common, the Wirral, on May 28, burning heathland which is home to lizards and tiger beetles.

Another large fire on Marsden Moor, West Yorkshire, on April 6, also with an unknown origin, led to burnt curlew eggs being found after the flames died down.

The wildfire warning comes as people head to the countryside and coasts in large numbers to enjoy the relaxing of lockdown rules.

The late May bank holiday saw beauty spots including Formby Beach in Merseyside, Birling Gap in East Sussex and the North York Moors recording their busiest day ever for visitor numbers, the National Trust said.

At Studland Beach, which the trust said is at extreme risk of wildfire, fire crews put out 30 unattended barbecues in one night.

Many sites have also seen more litter, which the National Trust said is unsightly and a threat to wildlife, and can increase the risk of wildfires.

Ben McCarthy, head of nature conservation at the National Trust, said people have clearly missed the outdoors and the trust is pleased to welcome them back.

‘But we’re urging people not to bring barbecues to the countryside or the coast. They can lead to real problems, particularly after such little rain in April and May.

Litter left on the Formby Beach sand dunes. As people flock to enjoy countryside and coastal beauty spots, the National Trust is urging them not to bring a barbecue or light a campfire when they visit

Litter left on the Formby Beach sand dunes. As people flock to enjoy countryside and coastal beauty spots, the National Trust is urging them not to bring a barbecue or light a campfire when they visit

Litter left on the Formby Beach sand dunes. The trust has seen several large blazes on its land since the start of April, including one at Froward Point, Devon, on May 24 which was started by a barbecue.

Litter left on the Formby Beach sand dunes. The trust has seen several large blazes on its land since the start of April, including one at Froward Point, Devon, on May 24 which was started by a barbecue.

Litter left on the Formby Beach sand dunes. The late May bank holiday saw beauty spots including Formby Beach in Merseyside, Birling Gap in East Sussex and the North York Moors recording their busiest day ever for visitor numbers, the National Trust said

Litter left on the Formby Beach sand dunes. The late May bank holiday saw beauty spots including Formby Beach in Merseyside, Birling Gap in East Sussex and the North York Moors recording their busiest day ever for visitor numbers, the National Trust said

‘Many areas of land are still very dry and all it takes is a single spark from a barbecue or a dropped cigarette to cause a serious fire,’ said McCarthy.

He urged: ‘Please think of others; think of the wildlife; think of our emergency services; and don’t bring barbecues to the beach or countryside.’

Mr McCarthy added the issue of litter had ramped up recently, inline with the ease of coronavirus lockdown measures. 

‘We absolutely want people to experience the beautiful natural places we look after and enjoy a picnic in the outdoors – but it’s not OK to drop rubbish and expect someone else to pick it up for you,’ McCarthy said.

People should hold on to rubbish until they find a bin, or better still, take it home with them, he said. 

Staff and local volunteers helped to clear huge quantities of rubbish from sites across the country – including at Dovedale in the Peak District where 100 bin bags were filled in a weekend. 

Litter not only blights the landscape but poses a threat to wildlife, which can easily become entangled or mistake it for food, said the Trust.

The RSPCA has received more than 21,600 reports of animals injured or caught in litter over the past five years. 

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