A POPULAR nature reserve could have been irreparably damaged after it was targeted by mindless vandals, the wildlife trust has said.

Yesterday the Echo reported how a bird watching hide in Two Tree Island nature reserve in Leigh was completely destroyed after it was set on fire on Sunday evening.

The nature reserve is maintained by Essex Wildlife Trust and Landscape Conservation Officer Macbradan Bones said the damage done could be immeasurable.

Mr Bones, who has worked for the trust for 15 years, said: “The hide cost several thousand pounds and has been completely destroyed.

“Only two weeks prior, we had fitted a new roof and some explainers to inform people about local bird breeds - all for nothing. This is the latest of several acts of vandalism on the hides there and it’s an issue that the trust sadly has to spend a lot of time and money rectifying.”

The fire destroyed shrubbery which made a public path more discrete and has now left a gaping hole meaning visitors may disturb nesting birds.

Mr Bones said: “The lagoon - which the hide overlooked - is an important breeding area for birds at this time of year, including very rare and protected avocet.


“Wildlife is so sensitive to any kind of disturbance or change - we can only hope the first and subsequent loss of cover won’t result in a failure in their breeding this year.”

Mr Bones said the vandalism has increased since the start of the Easter holidays and suspects naive youths may be responsible.

He added: “I doubt they appreciate the damage they have caused. It is heartbreaking for staff and volunteers who put in so much time but also for visitors who can no longer sit and enjoy the wildlife.

“As a charity we work hard to protect and enhance wildlife and provide education and enjoyment for the public free of charge with very limited resources so the loss of the hide is very upsetting.”

The trust are determining whether it is financially possible to replace the hide and repair the damage.

If you would like to support them, you can visit their website at https://www.essexwt.org.uk/