Our reaction to last night's fire at Rosenannon Downs Nature Reserve

Cornwall Wildlife Trust is saddened to report that around a quarter of Rosenannon Downs Nature Reserve, equivalent to over 20 hectares, has been burned to the ground in a suspected act of arson last night.

Multiple fire brigades from the surrounding towns were notified at 10pm on Tuesday 9th February and worked hard to bring the blaze, which has also damaged surrounding areas, under control.

Callum Deveney, Head of Nature Reserves at Cornwall Wildlife Trust, said ‘these fires are started by people who clearly don’t understand the damage they are doing.  Controlled burns are an important way of managing heathlands, but they must be done at the right time of year, and areas to be burned should be planned and small in proportion to the overall size of the site.  The fires that have burned at Rosenannon Downs are nothing of the sort, a huge proportion of the overall land area has been burned and an expensive fence has been destroyed. We are working hard to provide the best possible habitats for wildlife on limited resources, and then some thoughtless actions ruin it all’.

A site like this needs a range of ages of vegetation to be in its best condition for wildlife.  Thicker vegetation will support more nesting birds, mammals, reptiles and insects, and younger vegetation allows rare plants to emerge. 

On initial inspection it looks like fires had been started in various areas. By 12:15am the fire had been ‘sectorised’ and Cornwall Wildlife Trust would like to thank the multiple fire brigades for their rapid response which has saved the majority of the nature reserve from destruction.

In recent weeks Cornwall Wildlife Trust released the key findings from an upcoming State of Nature Report which shows many species and habitats are in decline across Cornwall. Acts such as the one witnessed last night not only are completely avoidable but cause instant, direct decline in local biodiversity. In response to the fire, Cornwall Wildlife Trust are asking for help in the form of donations to the Nature Reserves fund. Please visit cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk/naturereservesfund to donate.