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Grazing poniesThe year started with those incredible storms, and a lot of damage to coastal sites, land slips, beaches, popular with our summer visitors cleared of the sand –and then - WE HAD A SUMMER, the first proper summer for years, it was fantastic and the Lizard was transformed again with an amazing flowering season, and we here at NE managed to get work done that we had we planning for years, getting to parts of the NNR, that needed to be dry to carry out repairs to fencing and gates, we managed to get some species monitoring done, and our 11 graziers were able to get their stock out on time to help us manage the reserve.

chough image 2015 6 20150527 1895212043Teams of RSPB and National Trust volunteers have been watching chough nest sites across Cornwall again this spring. Despite a battering from some very strong and cold easterly winds, the 'Chough Watch' volunteers have put in many hours to make sure that disturbance around nest sites was kept to a minimum, and it has paid off!

  

Kennack Sands on The Lizard is one of our finest Cornish beaches. It is cherished by locals and visitors alike. In order to help safeguard this precious place, and to give people a stake in the ongoing management, we are meeting to form the Friends of Kennack Sands. We are calling all with an interest in the area to come along on Tuesday Jan 17th at Ruan Minor Village Hall at 7pm.Kennack Sands

Last summer the beach was thrown into a crisis when Cornwall Council withdrew the litter collection. Local interests worked hard to find a solution, and it was apparent how significant the beach is to so many residents. By forming the group we hope to capture some of that passion and give the local community a much greater sense of ownership of this beauty spot.

We are looking for botanists of all abilities to help with the first repeat of our 4-yearly quadrat survey on the Lizard National Nature Reserve. If you fancy getting involved in a few days of sun-drenched (not guaranteed), unique botanising (guaranteed) then this could be for you. It is a bit of a botanical jamboree with about 40 botanists taking part – half from Natural England and half local naturalists.

Since 2011 over 850 volunteers from NE and our partner organisations have participated in vegetation surveys on Long Term Monitoring Network (LTMN) sites. The Lizard NNR is part of this network and is due to be resurveyed this year from the 20th June – 23rd June (inclusive). The survey will help us to understand how changes in the natural environment relate to climate change, air pollution and land management and we'd like to invite you to take part.

Out on the coastal path in Spring

The south west coast path traverses 600 miles of the UK's finest scenery. Walk the whole distance from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset and, with all those ups and downs, you will climb the equivalent of 4 times the height of Everest! Over half of the coast path is in the care of the National Trust, so naturally it features strongly in our work in the SW.

Here on the Lizard the National Trust cares for more than 10 miles of this well-loved trail. Work can be divided into routine maintenance, such as strimming and keeping drains flowing, and larger improvement projects. In the summer months just keeping on top of the strimming is a never ending task, tackled by staff, our regular volunteers, and contractors called in as reinforcements. More sheltered sections of the path require up to 3 cuts per year.

New boardwalk and stepping stones near Black Head, built by our Access Ranger and team of volunteers

Upgrading a footbridge

Coast path erosion2012 was in many ways an extraordinary year. Team GB surpassed expectations at the Olympics, NASA landed its rover on Mars, some boffins in Italy finally discovered Higgs Bosun (the significance of this discovery is yet to sink in) and the deadly ash dieback disease, inevitably, reached our shores.

Here on the Lizard, 2012 will live long in our memories as the "rainy year". Considering the first few months of the year we were officially in a state of drought, the rain arrived in Spring and it then just seemed to get wetter and wetter, culminating in some quite extraordinary storms in November. Aside from the localised flooding causing untold misery to many local communities, the torrential rain cast a timely reminder of our dynamic and ever-changing coastline, in the shape of land slides, erosion and cliff falls. As a result, the South West Coast path suffered some of its worst damage in its 40 year history.

Cornish HedgeFarming has coincided with the natural environment on the Lizard for centuries. Currently due to the CAP reform, any farmer who has more than 15 hectares of arable land will have to “set aside” 5% of their arable land as an EFA, Environmental Focus Area.
There are five different types of EFA:
1. Fallow Land
2. Hedges
3. Buffer Strips
4. Catch crops and cover crops
5. Nitrogen fixing crop
The Cornish hedge is an obvious ecological resource which many would like to use towards their EFA requirements. There is an abundance of biodiversity within the Cornish hedgerows which is promoted by our mild winters.
EFA hedges can be any width, or any height. They must be maintained for the whole scheme year in line with cross compliance rules. Newly planted hedges can also count for EFA if they are in the ground when a BPS application is made.
Hedges can include gaps. There is no limit on how many gaps a hedge can have – as long as each individual gap is not more than 20 metres.

As a passionate conservationist, dedicated to protecting the Lizard wildlife, it may seem unusual, indeed downright contradictory, that I am also passionate about foraging for wild food.

A few years ago I was invited to do a piece on Radio 5 Live about foraging for food from the wild. This was a live discussion with John Wright, author of the fantastic and highly recommended River Cottage foraging books. As National Trust Head Ranger for the Lizard Peninsula, I think I was brought in to offer a counter argument, defending the rights of wild plants and animals to remain 'un-foraged' in the name of conservation. Unbeknown to 5 Live, I am also a keen forager and agreed with pretty much everything John had to say on the subject. Hardly the live heated argument 5-Live was hoping for!