FORESTRY England is helping police hunt down suspected arsonists after a fire destroyed two acres of heathland in Ringwood, killing a number of wildlife species.

The blaze on Sunday engulfed two acres of land, and it took around 30 firefighters to bring the fire under control

Forestry England, which manages Ringwood Forest, said its team were “shocked at the loss of creatures killed by the fire” and the destruction of nests belonging to birds including Dartford warblers, stonechats and nightjars.

Forestry England is urging anyone with information about the suspected arsonists to contact police.

Bournemouth Echo:

Fire crews at Plumley Wood, near Ringwood

“It’s believed that the fire was started deliberately and we are working with the local police to try and identify the people responsible for the incident,” a spokesperson said.

“We want everyone to be able to enjoy the outdoors, however, the current dry conditions have increased the risk of fires in the forest and wider countryside, so we are urging people to please act responsibly. It’s important that people do not have open camp fires or barbecues in the forest and extinguish cigarettes properly.”

“We’d like to thank the local fire service for responding so quickly, they managed to dampen down the fire before it had time to spread.”

“Every year, fire destroys thousands of hectares of countryside across England. They are a threat to people, wildlife, and forest. Although some fires are started deliberately, most of them are due to carelessness. We’d like to remind everyone to take care all the time, not only during dry spells,” the spokesperson added.

Wildfires can cause severe damage to habitats and landscapes, which in some cases can take decades to restore.