A collaboration of coast and countryside organisations on The Lizard Peninsula

South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project near San Francisco

For the last two weeks I have had the good fortune to be travelling with a group of University of Exeter undergraduate Geographers and Environmental Scientists to California for their final year fieldtrip.

I always find when I travel abroad that it throws some of our own landscape management issues in to sharp relief, and give new insights into what is happening on the ground. Yesterday we visited the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project near San Francisco. This vast project seeks to restore the natural marshland at the south end of San Francisco bay, some of which had been modified for salt production by artificial levees which created huge evaporation ponds.

The natural marshes provide flood control for some of the 7 million people that live in the San Francisco bay area, including the tech giants Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo and others whose shiny glass and steel buildings are clearly visible from the Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge which forms part of the salt pond restoration project.

Spring and early summer at Windmill Farm National Nature Reserve

Hi all – I am Dougy the volunteer warden (on behalf of the Cornwall Bird Watching and Preservation Society and the Cornwall Wildlife Trust). The reserve is jointly owned by the CBWPS and the CWT. To find the farm, follow the A3083 Helston to Lizard road. 3 kms after the B3296 to Mullion Cove, look out for a sign for 'Wild Camping' on the right-hand side. It covers a large area (over 120 hectares) and has a good mix of habitat – heathland, scrub, pasture and plenty of ponds.

Windmill Farm has something for everyone at this time of year. For the botanists amongst you the Three Lobed Crowfoot (picture below) is still in flower – this rare track loving plant can be found in the gateway on the approach to Ruan Pool.Three Lobed Crowfoot

The farm also has other rarities such as Pygmy Rush and Yellow Centruary. The first few weeks of June should welcome the arrival of Green Winged Orchids.

The character of the Lizard captured in one document

Natural England has recently published a new profile for the Lizard. The Lizard National Character Area profile is one of 159 documents that Natural England are producing which provide evidence based descriptions of the character of the English landscape. The documents build on the work of previous profiles and form part of the governments commitment to delivering the Natural Environment White Paper, Biodiversity 2020 (replacement for Biodiversity Action Plans) and European Landscape Convention.

The Helford River

..... a dynamic ever changing habitat, shaped by wind and tide.
Aerial view of the Helford River

The wild weather we are having now has prompted me to write something about the dynamic nature of an estuary and the effect of the wind. Estuaries can vary widely in character depending upon their aspect and exposure to prevailing winds. The Helford Stretches from East to West, it’s wide open mouth leads out onto Falmouth Bay, exposed to winds from the East and to a lesser extent the West.  ‘When the wind is in the east, 'tis neither good for man nor beast’ is a well-known country saying and certainly no one would want to be out on the Helford when a good Easterly is blowing!

The Helford River Survey– regular long term monitoring of the Helford intertidal areas

Thirty years ago when the Helford River was designated as a Voluntary Marine Conservation Area a survey was established to provide baseline information and ongoing monitoring of the intertidal in this area. It was designed to be a simple, inexpensive and therefore easily repeatable, a non-destructive baseline monitoring system to be carried out at regular intervals to try to detect any changes in the flora and fauna.

Rocky Shore at Prisk North Helford

Transects were laid out with grid references, compass bearings and features all taken down to make sure there is no doubt from year to year about where they lie.

The Impacts of Adventure Sports

KayakingAs we move into July the summer season is well and truly upon us, and it is a time of year which is vital for Cornwall's economy. Cornwall is one of the poorest regions in the UK and it heavily relies on tourism to keep businesses open and thriving. An influential draw for visitors to Cornwall is its long and varied coastline which is explored by some of the braver among us through activities such as coasteering, kayaking and climbing. The popularity of these adventure sports, especially in recent years, has led to a large increase in the number of companies providing opportunities for people to travel the coastline in new and exciting ways. This increase has been seen particularly on the Lizard, an area which traditionally provides a tranquil alternative to more populous areas such as Newquay or Bude, and as such could be considered out of place here.

The Lizard National Nature Reserve

 

Shetland ponies grazing at Beagles Cliff ©National TrustNNR Lizard Leaflet (2.8 mb)  

The Lizard Peninsula is one of the best places in the country for wildlife, with a wealth of rare plants, invertebrates and habitats that make visiting the area a must for nature lovers.

National Nature Reserves give recognition to the UK’s very best sites for wildlife, and The Lizard NNR, first declared in the 1970s, and managed by Natural England, covers nearly 2400ha of spectacular heath and coastline.  The NNR will shortly be extended by 470ha to include additional wildlife rich areas, in the care of The National Trust and Cornwall Wildlife Trust. The enlarged reserve will stretch from Mullion Cove in the west, across Goonhilly Downs in the centre of the peninsula, to Lowland Point, near Coverack in the east.

The Lizard Vegetation Survey

Botanists old and newer needed for The Lizard Vegetation Survey

TLizard Florahis June Natural England will be embarking on a week of intensive vegetation monitoring on the Lizard National Nature Reserve. The survey project is part of a nationwide Long Term Monitoring Network which aims to understand the key influences and indicators of long term biodiversity change from the impacts of air pollution, climate change and land management.

The programme is also seeking to consolidate and enhance surveying skills in staff, volunteers and partner organisations. So this June we are seeking 30-40 botanists of mixed abilities (it is probably not the best starting place for absolute beginners) to survey the 50 2m square quadrats around the reserve. The quadrats are ranged across the five internationally important habitats: maritime grassland, maritime heath, short heath, tall heath and mixed heath. Some quadrats are known botanical hotspots and some are random – we hope to capture more trends this way. You can find out more about the LTMN here;

http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/research/register/ltmn.aspx