Following fires which charred almost seventeen hectares of Canford Heath, BCP Council, community partners and volunteers have been working together to rescue wildlife and protect the heath for the future.
On Saturday 23 April Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) responded to a large fire at Canford Heath. They managed to completely extinguish the blaze by 10pm.
In the days that followed BCP Rangers, Urban Heaths Partnership, Conservation organisations, volunteers and other local groups have pulled together their response to the devastation. This has included clearing litter exposed by the fire as well as operations to recover and record the bodies of deceased wildlife.
Over the last week, BCP Rangers have rescued and released eleven animals including five sand lizards and three smooth snakes, the UK’s rarest reptiles. It is expected that further reptiles will continue to emerge as the weather gets warmer.
In collaboration with BCP Council, The Parks Foundation has now also set up a fundraising page. Donations will fund repairs to the heathland fencing, purchase volunteer supplies and assist with surveys of reptiles and other wildlife. It is expected that it will take fifteen to twenty years for Canford Heath to naturally regenerate but some operations will be conducted by BCP Rangers to assist with species recovery.
Rangers, the police and DWFRS volunteers will continue to closely monitor the heathlands as no rain is expected over the Bank Holiday weekend. Residents living near heathland and other high-risk areas are advised to check their gardens and land surrounding their property for anything that could cause a potential fire.
At Canford Heath, fire defendable lines assisted in saving the properties close to the heathland. BCP Council will continue to work with Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue service to assess the defence and see if any additional improvements can be made. The council will also be assisting DWFRS with house-to-house calls to discuss fire safety with residents.
Councillor Mark Anderson, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Place, BCP Council said “Our rangers devote their lives to cultivating and protecting our wild spaces however we cannot diminish the risk of fires completely. We would encourage those that live near the area to check what they are storing in their sheds that may be close to the heathlands.
I’m pleased to hear that some positivity has come out of this tragic incident and I’m grateful to those that are dedicating their time to search for animals, clear the litter, provide supplies and of course donate to the cause.”
Cathi Farr, Chief Executive Officer, The Parks Foundation, said: ““We have been so touched by the donations we have received so far to help protect the heath, which is already nearly £500. When such devastating things happen, it is great that we can all play our part in supporting these events in different ways; whether that’s by volunteering or perhaps making a donation. These funds will really go a long way to protecting the heath for years to come.”
Read BCP Council’s full response to the Canford Heath fire here.