Wolsty Banks fire damage 'long-lasting'
There are fears the damage caused by a fire at a Cumbria nature reserve could take years to heal.
Wolsty Banks on the Solway coast is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and home to ground-nesting birds, sand lizards and the rare natterjack toad.
Seven hectares of dune grassland were destroyed in a fire on 20 July caused by a discarded disposable barbecue.
Environmental experts have been assessing the "long-lasting and horrendous" damage to wildlife.
Rose Wolfe, from the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, said: "It is going to take a long time for nature to repair it - up to 10 years in the worst affected areas.
"The heat will have been so severe in some parts of the dunes that the roots of the grasses will have been burnt away and will be unable to re-grow immediately."
She added: "I can't emphasise enough the danger of using barbecues on the dunes.
"I know it's a gorgeous place to sit and picnic, but the risk of fire is just too great."