Concern for wildlife after devastating fire 'decimates' Salford nature reserve

A suspected arson attack at a nature reserve in Salford is feared to have devastated wildlife in the area.

Firefighters were called to the blaze at Little Woolden Moss at Cadishead on April 12.

Workers for the Wildlife Trust say many of the animals who call the site home, will not have been able to escape the flames quick enough.

Around 500 sq m (5382 sq ft) of peat land has been left 'decimated', they said.

We are absolutely devastated by this latest fire. It will be hard to ascertain the extent of the damage to the plants and animals for some time, but we will do our best to monitor the situation and restore the habitat.

The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside

The cause of the fire is unknown, although Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue service say it is believed to have been started deliberately.

The site had been subject to 'repeated acts of vandalism and anti-social behaviour' in recent years.

Last September, trees dating back 10,000 years were destroyed in a suspected arson attack at Little Woolden Moss.

Just months earlier, items including pumping and irrigation equipment and planting troughs with an estimated value of over £500 were stolen from the site.

It has become a bit of a seasonal issue. Last year we had at least three fires that occured on site causing the same kind of damage. A lot of these fires by human interaction. The classic things are cigarette butts being left, bits of glass or even barbecues. Unfortunately in some instances I'm sure there is a litteral attempt to start a fire but the things that we can do to try and prevent that is show a bit of responsibility and think about our impact on our natural environment.

Andrew Hankinson, Lancashire Peatland Initiative Officer