Calls To Ban Sky Lanterns in New Forest

30 September 2014, 19:04 | Updated: 30 September 2014, 19:14

Organisations across the New Forest have joined National Parks England in calling for the release of Chinese sky lanterns to be banned due to the significant risk they pose to wildlife and habitats.

It's over concerns about the impact of sky lanterns on the countryside, both in terms of the health and welfare risks for ponies and other livestock and the danger of fires being ignited by lanterns.

The New Forest National Park Authority and its partners want residents and visitors to steer clear of sky lanterns, particularly as the free-roaming New Forest ponies and cattle can become entangled in a lantern's frame.

Hampshire County Council has banned the launching of sky lanterns from its land, and National Parks England - which represents the 10 English National Parks - is lobbying for the intentional release of sky lanterns to be classified as littering and banned.

National Parks England says more action should be taken to raise public awareness of the hazards associated with the use of sky lanterns, and people should be encouraged to find more environmentally-friendly ways to celebrate special events.

New Forest National Park Authority Chief Executive Alison Barnes said:

'We have been concerned for some time about sky lanterns; they are a potentially serious threat to the internationally important wildlife and habitats of the New Forest and the livestock which shape the landscape.

'I would appeal to anyone marking a celebration in the New Forest to do so without launching lanterns.'

The frames of lanterns are particularly dangerous, as they can get chopped up with hay and eaten by people's horses or fed to

New Forest ponies in winter, which causes their stomachs to rupture and leads to an agonising death.

Graham Ferris, Chairman of the New Forest Commoners Defence Association, said:

'We believe that sky lanterns represent a totally unacceptable risk to the New Forest and its livestock.

'A fire started by these lanterns could prove devastating, and what's left lying around after the lanterns have landed can entangle livestock or be eaten by them with fatal consequences.

'We urge people in and around the New forest to act responsibly and not release these lanterns.'

As well as posing a threat to the New Forest's free roaming ponies and cattle, lanterns can harm people's horses and farm animals.

Tony Hockley of the New Forest Equine Association said both wire and bamboo-framed lanterns can cause injury and death to animals. He said:

'These lanterns are so dangerous in so many ways that no-one who cares for the countryside and the animals that graze it should even think about setting them off. Few other types of litter can have such devastating results.'

If you find ponies, cattle, donkeys or pigs in distress please ring the Forestry Commission on 02380 283141 who will notify the duty Agister.