Trees dating back 10,000 years have been destroyed in a suspected arson attack at a nature reserve in Salford. 

Firefighters were called to reports of a blaze at Little Woolden Moss at around 7pm on Sunday (September 20). 

A large area of land was affected, including a number of bog oak trees that were preserved on the peatland soils between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago. 

The trees were discovered during an extraction at the site and were grouped together in the centre of the nature reserve away from the public footpath that skirts the site. 

Crews from Irlam and Leigh continued battling the fire today on Monday (September 21). 

Areas were still smoldering as some of the precious bog oaks continued to flame, a spokesman for the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside said. 

Andy Hankinson, Lancashire Peatlands initiative project officer, said, “We’re really devastated by this latest fire on Little Woolden Moss. After working with local fire and rescue teams it is suspected that the fire was started intentionally.

The precious trees have been destroyed
The precious trees have been destroyed

“We have been working really hard to restore this rare example of a lowland raised peat bog, re-wetting the remaining peat and reintroducing specialist bog plants, including a number of rare species. The bog oaks are such a fantastic example of the amazing preserving properties of peat and these simply cannot be replaced.

“We wish to send our huge thanks out to the wonderful firefighters who have worked tirelessly to control the fire and save larger areas of the nature reserve from being affected.”

Crews remained at the scene this morning (September 21)
Crews remained at the scene this morning (September 21)

Alan Wright, campaigns manager at The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside, added: “Our region has lost 98 per cent of its lowland raised peat bogs, so the few we have left are incredibly precious. 

“We are appealing for people to remain vigilant and report any further sightings of fire or anti-social behaviour directly to the police either online or by phoning 101. Please help us to protect our nature reserves.”