Heathfire rescue

Copyright: Gavin Parsons all rights reserved

Copyright: Gavin Parsons all rights reserved

This week’s ‘Behind the picture’ has a bit of a sad tale. In 2011 a massive area of low land heath close to Poole in Dorset was deliberately set alight. Low land heath is one of the rarest habitats on earth. Rare habitats are, by their nature, inhabited by rare wildlife. Upton Heath, as it is called, is home to smooth snakes, adders, grass snakes, sand and common lizards, raft spiders and a host of others creatures.

As you can see the fire devastated everything. Two days before that picture was taken the man would have been lost in a sea of ferns, gorse and shrubs. Even the trees where destroyed. The area looked like the surface of the moon and I wanted to show the complete devastation.

I followed one of the reptile rescuers who was looking for adders and stayed back a little when he got to this tree as I could see its potential as a graphic image. As he walked passed it, he glanced at the tree and that’s when I took to shot. The person now has a face, and therefore a personality, but the moonscape landscape is as dramatic as when I saw it.

We saved dozens of reptiles, amphibians and insects over a couple of days and other teams saved even more. I captured the whole thing. BBC Wildlife magazine ran a story on it, but sadly only showed one shot – not this one. The rest of the news media ignored the story. So I thought I’d share it with you.

 

 

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