A collaboration of coast and countryside organisations on The Lizard Peninsula

How to determine suitable areas

The FARM project makes use of the ERICA database (a database of natural history records for Cornwall) to map plant communities across the Lizard over time. We are able to define which time periods we use records from, and so could compare between two time periods and see the change over time of the flora on the Lizard. We then assigned Ellenberg Indicator values to the species found on the Lizard peninsula. This allowed us to map changes in the flora requirements between two time periods using GIS and see where any drastic changes had occurred. The change in Ellenberg values allows us to assess what has changed in an area over time, providing us with guidance as to how to manage an area to restore floral diversity.

What we plan to do with this information

Kynance Cove

An example of the floral diversity of the Lizard, at Kynance Cove

Photo by Matteosoldati (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The information will allow us to produce maps, which show change in the flora composition over time, but how is this helpful? From a research point of view it allows us to look at the history of the peninsula, providing us with a better understanding of the pressures and changes they create within the floral community. This in turn allows us to make more accurate predictions of the likely influences on other systems similar to the Lizard. However, for the purpose of the project the most important use is providing management recommendations based on historical data. In turn, we are able to create more specific management schemes depending on the region of the Lizard, meaning we can approach farmers as individuals and discuss management schemes specific to their land. As a result suggestions will be more personal to the farmer, and more effective, as we can provide site-specific options, as opposed to blanket schemes which may not be as efficient, or even work, on the site the farmer occupies.

Why do we want specific management schemes?

Grazing is one example of management which can be used to promote coastal flora.

Photo: Dirk Ingo Franke

As previously mentioned, there are a number of benefits to specific management schemes, including an increased likelihood of schemes being implemented and a reduced total cost due to increased efficiency of management schemes. The over-arching goal for management of the Lizard is to maintain, or even increase, the floral diversity of the Peninsula well into the future. With specific management schemes, we are able to tailor management to best promote rarer species in the areas where they are found. A larger total area can be also potentially be covered, due to the increased per site impact of the management applied.

Aside from the aesthetic value of a more diverse floral community, increased biodiversity provides a buffer to the impact of climate change on species. This in turn reduces extinction risk, creating a more productive ecosystem in the future and slowing the rate of climate change.

Many thanks to Colin French, who created the ERICA database, and the numerous species recorders of the Lizard, for providing records of the natural history of Cornwall.

My thanks also to Julien Marcetteau for his partnership in writing the code to produce the distribution maps in GIS, and to Ilya Maclean for his guidance in this process.

Published: Feb 2014
Author: Owen Greenhouse

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

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