Aerial footage has revealed the "devastating" extent of treasured coastal wildlife habitats destroyed during the heatwave fire at Wild Ken Hill in west Norfolk.

The estate near Snettisham, which hosts the BBC's Springwatch programme, has become known for its ambitious rewilding, conservation and regenerative farming project.

But 33 hectares of its wildlife habitat and green spaces are now blackened and burned after being consumed by the fire which started in Tuesday's record high temperatures.


Project manager Dominic Buscall posted images and videos on social media which illustrated the scale of the damage - and some of the wild victims of the inferno.

"Our project centres on fighting climate change and restoring nature, so it was deeply devastating and ironic that such an event happened to us," he said.

"A significant amount of wildlife perished in the fire, in particular mammals, reptiles and amphibians, late-nesting and juvenile birds.

"The coastal park is home to turtle doves, grasshopper warbler and many other rare birds which we hope mostly escaped.

"More important is the habitat itself. The fire moved fast and therefore has not destroyed all of the taller vegetation.

"The ground flora is almost all gone, but we expect it to regenerate quickly. Large areas of scrub to the south were unaffected. So not total disaster."

The "coastal park" area of thick, thorny scrub was well used by the public, in particular beach-goers and dog walkers, said Mr Buscall.

He said the cause of the blaze is unknown.

Eastern Daily Press: Coastal wildlife habitats destroyed during the heatwave fire at Wild Ken Hill in west NorfolkCoastal wildlife habitats destroyed during the heatwave fire at Wild Ken Hill in west Norfolk (Image: Joe Thompsett)

"However, the fire has revealed the significant littering of aluminium cans and glass bottles in the area – one possible cause," he said.

"Like many places, we also have instances of wild camping, disposable barbecues, smoking. But we shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

"Undoubtedly climate change played some role in causing this. We are tinder-dry across the farm from a harsh spring, and reached record temperatures across the UK."

He added: "We will carry on with our work, which we feel is more important than ever."

Mr Buscall also praised the estate's "brave, committed team" who enabled fire services to control the blaze, preventing its potential spread into Heacham.