FORESTRY England is calling on the public to dispose of cigarettes responsibly after a forest fire caused devastation to a plantation, burning 6,500 trees.

The incident happened earlier this month in Harrow Hill near Drybrook, including the destruction of a bird’s nest freshly lined with feathers.

Bird's nest
Destroyed bird's nest (Forestry England)

Around 30 per cent of the nine-hectare site, which was replanted in winter 2015/16, has been badly damaged and it is unknown if any of the trees will survive.

Forestry England believe the fire was caused by a carelessly disposed of cigarette butt. As temperatures rise and the ground conditions dry, the nation’s forests are vulnerable to fires ripping through them causing damage to trees, plants, and wildlife.

And FE chiefs want to remind the public not to light campfires or barbecues and to dispose of cigarette butts appropriately to avoid any further fires happening this summer.

Community Ranger for Forestry England, Leoni Dawson said: “Unfortunately we believe the fire was started by someone being careless with a cigarette butt. We are incredibly grateful to the fire service for attending the scene and ensuring the fire didn’t spread any further.

“This was an eight-year-old broadleaf replanting site that had had a lot of financial resource, effort, and time put into managing it and it was doing well. We are saddened and frustrated that this has happened and shall regularly monitor the area to see how the affected trees respond.

“Please be thoughtful when undertaking activities in the forest and think about the consequences your actions could have.

“If you spot a wildfire, ensure you are safe then please call 999 immediately and if you can, provide a what3words of the location.”

Meanwhile, they have also warned people not to cool off in the warmer weather by swimming in Forest ponds, with Steam Mills Lake between Drybrook and Cinderford, in particular, being an old open cast site and very deep.

A post said: “It contains saturated clay/mud and even on the hottest day will be extremely cold.

“There may also be abandoned machinery and steel work present that you wouldn’t want to stand on!”