As the summer months approach, the season for celebrations and parties carries a wildlife warning with it, as Dorset Wildlife Trust advises on the dangers of sky lanterns. These paper lanterns are often lit in celebration and left to float across the night sky and, while they may look pretty, they can be a severe risk to wildlife and livestock.
Why are sky lanterns such a danger to wildlife?
Andy Fale, Dorset Wildlife Trust warden, says: “We often find burnt-out sky lanterns on our heathland, which is one of the worst places they can end up. At this time of year, the heaths are very dry, and the gorse and heathers could very easily catch alight. Fires are absolutely devastating on these reserves as the fire spreads so quickly, killing nesting birds, rare reptiles and mammals that can’t outrun the spreading flames. The lanterns are also a big problem for grazing cattle, as they often swallow the wire frame of the lanterns which then get stuck in the animal’s stomachs. Once the lanterns burn out and land, they then become discarded litter, which can hang around for years.”
The advice from Dorset Wildlife Trust is to enjoy your celebrations without using sky lanterns and, if they are used, to choose the widely available eco-friendly bio-degradable lanterns, with bamboo frames and non-drip fuel cells. It is also important to avoid heathland and other vulnerable sites and to watch that your lantern does get airborne properly rather than crashing nearby with the flame still lit.
What alternatives are there?
Andy added: “There are many alternatives for sky lanterns that are just as impressive and enjoyable to watch such as large spectacular kites, sparklers and controlled ground lit candle displays well away from high fire risk sites. We would advise against using balloons as they can also cause a danger to wildlife and are often swallowed by sea turtles mistaking them for jellyfish. Enjoy your summer and enjoy your local wildlife too!”
The Dorset Fire and Rescue Service have provided online information and guidelines for anyone celebrating with sky lanterns at www.dorsetfire.co.uk/index.php?ref=510.
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Nicky Hoar at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
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About Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.
The reason why this has not been achieved before is the difficulty in filming a buzzard nest. It took months of planning - starting before Christmas 2010. Although quite common now, buzzards don’t necessarily use the same nest site every year and usually have several nest sites to choose from (with old nests still in them). The cameras had to be set up on several trees in two separate locations (involving climbing incredibly high and dangerous trees and dangling on ropes to put in the cameras). Luckily the buzzard pair picked one of the camera trees! Another difficulty was setting up a wireless connection to a central unit so that the pictures could be broadcast live online, requiring external batteries that need to be changed on a regular basis. Dorset Wildlife Trust is pleased to acknowledge this great achievement by Jason Fathers of Wildlife Windows and thank him for his persistence.
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There are 47 individual Wildlife Trusts covering the whole of the UK and the Isle of Man and Alderney. All are working for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone. We have more than 800,000 members including 150,000 members of our junior branch Wildlife Watch. Our vision is to create A Living Landscape and secure Living Seas. We manage around 2,300 nature reserves and every year we advise thousands of landowners and organisations on how to manage their land for wildlife. We also run marine conservation projects around the UK, collecting vital data on the state of our seas and celebrating our amazing marine wildlife. Every year we work with thousands of schools and our nature reserves and visitor centres receive millions of visitors. Each Wildlife Trust is working within its local communities to inspire people about the future of their area: their own Living Landscapes and Living Seas.