A collaboration of coast and countryside organisations on The Lizard Peninsula

Aerial view of PredannackPredannack is a satellite airfield to RNAS Culdrose, the primary military use is for helicopter flight training and fire fighter training. Covering over 350 hectares it is an incredibly varied and valuable wildlife site due to a combination of complex underlying geology, mild oceanic climate and the protection offered to it by being an airfield; from intensive agriculture, development or forestry.

Back in 2001, it seemed like a crazy notion to even contemplate grazing the airfield, and the whole of the operational land within the centre of the airfield was mown to oblivion. Any birdlife on the airfield was actively discouraged.

Fast forward to 2015; how things have changed! The acronyms still confuse me, I still feel like a complete scruff amongst the smart RN uniforms and shiny shoes but frankly the management of the airfield for wildlife couldn't be better. Traditional breed cattle roam the heathlands and a varied mosaic of grasslands is now abundant with wild flowers, invertebrates and birdlife through more sensitive cutting regimes. New scrapes and ponds have been created, old trackways unveiled, areas of heathland rewetted and wildlife surveys are being undertaken. Public access has also improved with new footpaths and regular guided walks arranged each year.

Predannack Pond JC Highland cattle
Guided walks

Most encouraging of all is the enthusiasm, knowledge and skills now being brought to these meetings by MoD staff. This is, of course, nothing new. The MoD owns and manages huge tracts of some of the most important areas for wildlife in the UK (and beyond) and despite significant budget cuts and involvement in various conflicts around the world, the Royal Navy recognises the value and importance of protecting these valuable habitats and species.

This is another example of what can be achieved for wildlife conservation through working in partnership on a landscape scale.

Published: Mar 2015
Author: Justin Whitehouse (National Trust Lead Ranger; The Lizard)