A collaboration of coast and countryside organisations on The Lizard Peninsula

Research Background
The Lizard has long been an area of scientific interest as a result of these factors. The original group that took a closer look at the Lizard were the botanists, who began recording the flora species that can be found there over a hundred years ago and can still be found recording there today. More recently it has been conservationists who have been drawn to the Lizard. Conservationists from the Universities of Exeter and Bristol have been researching how the wildlife is responding to human activities and human induced threats, such as farming and climate change. It is important that we find out how the Lizard and its wildlife respond so we can effectively manage the environment to retain its beauty and diversity for future generations.

Flora Microclimates and Microhabitats
APygmy rush in a trackway on the Lizardn ongoing study led by Ilya Maclean and myself is looking at the microclimate and habitat preference of rare and endemic plants such as Cornish Heath (Erica vagans) and Pygmy Rush (Juncus pygmaeus). It is hoped this will enable a better understanding of the most effective way of managing the Lizard to promote plant abundance.

Supporting Local Flora
Research into how best to support local flora has also recently been undertaken by students from the Univeristy of Exeter, supported by Camel and Roskilly Farm and the ESI. Thanks to the outstanding work of everyone involved in the ERICA database, which holds plant records for the Lizard for some 300 years, it has been possible to map changes in the plant communities of the Lizard and highlight important areas for focused management. This in turn allows for discussion with local business owners, mostly farmers, potentially providing a management plan which will maintain the Lizard's outstanding natural beauty well in to the future.

Housel BayArtificial Lighting
Thomas Davies et al. (2012) have looked at how artificial lighting impacts local wildlife in the nearby town of Helston. This research could be combined with outside work on the difference in response depending on the lighting type used. This would allow us to minimize human impact through artificial lighting and maintain the composition and current splendour of the peninsula.

Local Industry
Aside from maintaining the Lizard there has also been recent research into its potential for supporting new industries. The Cornish Seaweed Company, created by Caroline Warwick-Evans and Tim van Berkel, has looked at the recovery rates of seaweed to determine the extent of harvesting potential for use of seaweed as a consumer product.

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Published: Sept. 2013
Author: Owen Greenwood (Exeter University)
Photographs: Dr. Ilya Maclean, Flickr account: http://www.flickr.com/photos/55998516@N02/

Click here for more articles about conservation work on the Lizard.