Impact to wildlife
On the Smithills Estate, the fire largely affected upland grassland and moorland.
Breeding birds were the most visible animals disturbed by the fire and all the human activity across the estate. Short-eared owls, oystercatcher and curlew all breed on the moor and if any were raising their young at the time, those nests will have perished.
While the adult birds could fly to escape the heat, other groups will not have been as fortunate. Many smaller creatures such as frogs, toads, lizards and rodents will have been unable to escape in time.
This was also true for many insects, such as emperor moth caterpillars that feed and live on the moorland. A whole raft of species in the invertebrate world will have been wiped out by this fire.
The impact to the plant community will be sizable too. Fire in the peat acts as a steriliser, so the tiny beetles, springtails and fungi will have also disappeared.
Thankfully, moorland in particular is used to fire. As a habitat it is naturally designed to recover well from such incidents. Already the grasses have started to grow out of the ashes on site. Full recovery will take years. But this will happen, gradually, as animals from surrounding areas recolonise.
Work is still to be done to make sure the ecosystem can recover as quickly as possible. There's also work to ensure the water that supplies our residents is safe and returned to normal.