WILDLIFE experts have been assessing the damage caused by a large heath fire at the UK's first 'super' nature reserve.

Dozens of firefighters rushed to Studland on Tuesday evening to tackle the huge blaze at Godlingston Heath which had been spotted by eyewitnesses across Bournemouth and Poole.

Crews from Swanage, Westbourne, Poole, Christchurch, Hamworthy and Wimborne along with other services were sent to the scene of the fire which ripped through the heath for more than two hours.

People were told to avoid the area as strong winds were driving the fire and smoke.

Bournemouth Echo: Aftermath of Studland heath fireAftermath of Studland heath fire

Investigations are still ongoing to establish the cause of the heath fire which covered around 600 square metres and was photographed by dozens of residents across the area.

Multiple crews returned on Wednesday morning to minimise any further hotspots and to further determine the cause of the blaze.

Tracey Churcher, National Trust’s Isle of Purbeck general manager, told the Daily Echo: “It’s really distressing to see a fire of the magnitude of last night, however, if it’s going to happen this was possibly the best time it could have happened with strong winds which meant it went across quickly and hasn’t burnt deeply.

“Thankfully, less animals would have been affected because they’re going to be in hibernation. Looking at it this morning, we can see it could have been much worse and we’re very grateful to the fire and rescue service.”

Tracey also agreed that the time of year also prevented the fire from spreading quicker. She said: “It would have been a lot worse [in summer]. Obviously you have lots of people using the heaths at that time, nesting birds and reptiles also in the space means it would have been significantly worse.”

Bournemouth Echo: A dozen firefighters were still on scene in Studland on Wednesday morningA dozen firefighters were still on scene in Studland on Wednesday morning

National Trust’s landscape partnerships manager David Brown added: “Come here next spring and you’ll have wildlife re-colonising all across the affected area here. It’s not a case whereby this land has no value anymore – even next year wildlife will take advantage of the bare ground that’s been created. Gradually, over the next decade or so we’ll see it regrow back as a heathland.

“Short term impact of course it’s shocking to see but it could have been worse.”

The site makes up part of Purbeck's super nature reserve – which was the first in the UK to be formed.