A collaboration of coast and countryside organisations on The Lizard Peninsula

Despite their best efforts, a far corner of the farm, had in recent years become scrubbed up with dense willow and blackthorn.  Normally this would be seen as part of the heathland habitat mosaic that is so valuable for associated birds, reptiles and invertebrate life which benefit from the variety of vegetation and shelter afforded by such conditions.  However, one particular field, known as The Tennis Court' that had scrubbed up is also a well-known location of a very rare plant, Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium). This species does not like to be shaded over too much and requires open, short and preferably grazed damp grassland in order to successfully grow, flower and set seed.

So that the open conditions could be restored and in turn enable the grazing stock to help maintain the right conditions for the Pennyroyal, plus many other grassland species associated with it, local conservation contractor Kevin Authers of Cornish Countryside Services was employed to cut and burn up the densest scrub in the field and along old trackways which run to it from the higher ground. Given the unrelenting rain and remoteness of the site from any vehicular access, the work turned out to be extremely hard and in the end took over 30 days to complete. Kevin and his staff deserve a medal for their achievement of what is a really great result for plant conservation on The Lizard.  The scrub clearance was kindly supported by a grant from Sita applied for by Plantlife.'

Follow up management in future years will now be much more effective. Grazing with either cattle, or possibly supplemented by hardy ponies, will be able to keep on top of the inevitable re-growth of scrub and to restore the special habitat conditions demanded by one of our rarest plants.

Published: May 2014
Author: Jeremy Clitherow (Natural England)

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