Cornwall Wildlife Trust is 'deeply saddened' by Monday's (April 4) fire at Bartinney Downs Nature Reserve.

They report that more than 120 acres of land has been burned to the ground as a result of the major gorse fire.

Callum Deveney, head of nature reserves at Cornwall Wildlife Trust, said: "Controlled burns are an important way of managing heathlands, but they must be planned carefully and carried out at the right time of year.

"The fires that have burned at Bartinney Downs are nothing of the sort and couldn’t have come at a worse time, with the awakening of nature in spring and the arrival of newborn wildlife.

"Thankfully our costs to repair the damage look to be low but incidents such as these are a massive set back to our work and our ability to provide the best possible habitats for Cornwall’s wildlife."

The blaze was described as completely avoidable and fires such as this tend to cause instant, direct decline in an area's local biodiversity.

According to the trust, with just over two percent of the world’s lowland heathland, Cornwall’s heathland is vitally important on a worldwide scale and the heathlands of Bartinney Downs nature reserve in West Penwith supported an array of rare birds, mammals and insects.

It says that, although some would have been able to escape the fire, species such as voles and adders will have likely perished.

Cornwall Wildlife Trust registered the incident with Devon and Cornwall Police and is continuing to assess the damage caused.

Upon its initial inspection, the trust has stated that the site’s extensive and specialist fencing has been burned.

However, fortunately, the site’s vegetation management helped to slow and stop the fire from spreading.

The fire is believed to have started on heathland adjacent to the reserve and rapidly grew due to strong winds.

The gorse fire is the second unexpected fire that has taken place on a Cornwall Wildlife Trust nature reserve this year.

In February around a quarter of Rosenannon Downs Nature Reserve, equivalent to over 20 hectares, had been burned to the ground in a suspected act of arson.

Cornwall Wildlife Trust would like to thank members of the local community for alerting the fire to emergency services, as well as the fire brigades for their rapid response which has saved much of the nature reserve from destruction.

The huge gorse fire that, at one point had a front of 200 metres, was dealt with by fire crews on Monday morning.

Appliances from St Just, St Ives and Penzance were mobilised to deal with the fire.