A collaboration of coast and countryside organisations on The Lizard Peninsula

But, more seriously, it has meant we have been unable to carry out a lot of the planned programme of controlled burning we had hoped to do. In a good year we would have carried out some burns as early as December, concentrating on the large blocks of even-aged heathland on Goonhilly, Kynance farm and Mullion cliffs. The benefits of breaking up these even-aged stands is that you get a more diverse habitat with one immediate result being the masses of Heath-spotted and Fragrant orchids showing themselves. However, these burns will have to be programmed in for next winter. During the last week we have had some nice spring weather with sunshine and easterly winds, so we have concentrated our efforts on burning some key botanical sites at Kynance farm: these sites with rocky outcrops in them have become overgrown and overshadowed by heather and gorse and were home (and hopefully still are) to Spring Sandwort, Spring and Autumn Squill and the very rare Dwarf Rush. During the process of cutting firebreaks we were also able to puddle up some of the old trackways, which have in the past had Three-lobed Water Crowfoot and Pygmy Rush growing in them.

The latter part of the week proved to be very frustrating for burning at another couple of sites as, although we had sunshine, the wind dropped away completely making it impossible to burn. And, although we are legally allowed to burn until the end of March, we don't carry out this operation after the 2nd week of March as with the warmer weather we could be getting birds looking for sites to breed and, as the ground warms up, we get adders and lizards coming out to bask in the sunshine.
All of this cancelled work will have to be rolled forward to future years or we may need to review the management methods used if we continue to get very wet winters in the future.

Published: Mar 2014
Author: Ray Lawman (Natural England, Senior Reserves Manager/Group Co-ordinator)

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