Rescue mission in progress for Rabbit Rocks

The scorched earth following arson attacks at Kirkless Nature Reserve, otherwise known as Rabbit Rocks
The scorched earth following arson attacks at Kirkless Nature Reserve, otherwise known as Rabbit Rocks

An operation to restore a fire-ravaged Wigan beauty spot to its former glory has been mounted.

Environmental campaigners have been working hard to overhaul Kirkless Nature Reserve, since it fell victim to a string of arson attacks earlier in the summer.

Wildflowers areas were devastated by a series of small fires at the site, known locally as Rabbit Rocks, which is managed by Lancashire Wildlife Trust on behalf of Wigan Council.

Supporters were dismayed as it appeared arsonists toured the reserve with a cigarette lighter, or a box of matches, to cause more mayhem.

Project officer Susan Lonsdale said the fire had caused a “massive amount of damage”, especially for the wildflower beds, but the incidents could be used to benefit the general outlook there.

With the Friends of Kirkless helping to lead the way, the work so far has concentrated on tidying up the burnt areas and removing affected soil, so rocks will be exposed where wildlife can thrive.

This month will see some of the burnt areas cut and green hay spread over the ground, to encourage fresh seed growth.

She added: “We can use this as an opportunity to rejuvenate some of the areas previously dominated by Rosebay Willowherb and help Kirkless bounce back from this ecological setback.”