Press ESC to close

Reviving Cornwall’s Biodiversity: A £350,000 Conservation Project for Lizard National Nature Reserve

Rare Flowers and Butterflies to Benefit from £350,000 Project at Cornish Reserve

A groundbreaking conservation initiative has been launched with a budget of £350,000 to revive the biodiverse ecosystems of the Lizard National Nature Reserve in Cornwall. This expansive 2,400-hectare reserve, notable for its unique flora and fauna, is set to experience a significant boost in efforts focusing on the preservation of its distinctive micro-habitats.

The funding, provided by the government agency Natural England, aims to address the pressing needs of conservation in various natural settings within the reserve. These include the cliffs, bare rocks, and aquatic environments where extremely rare species, such as specific lichens, liverworts, and plants flourish.

The Lizard National Nature Reserve is renowned for its semi-natural heathlands, lush grasslands, and picturesque coastline hosting a plethora of wildlife, some of which are exclusive to the region. The conservation project has earmarked 15 key species for recovery. Among these are the rare crusty lichens, the unique wild asparagus, the twin-headed clover, and the grayling butterflies, each facing threats of decline or possible extinction.

Experts have raised concerns over the pressing challenges of climate change, invasive species such as the Hottentot fig, and pollution, which considerably threaten the natural habitats and species within this reserve. The Hottentot fig, in particular, has been identified as a significant threat to the native wild asparagus by outcompeting it for space and resources.

In response, a variety of conservation measures are being employed. These include the meticulous manual clearance of ivy from serpentine rocks—a vital habitat for lichens—along with scrub clearance, pond creation, and landscape modifications to benefit plants requiring bare, disturbed ground for germination. The targeted heathland management through controlled burning and the establishment of firebreaks are intended to nurture plant species vital for the diet of grayling butterfly caterpillars while safeguarding isolated species from the increased risk of wildfires due to global warming.

To further enhance the reserve’s mosaic of heathland habitats, grazing practices utilizing ponies and cattle are being adopted. This approach not only supports diversity but also ensures the maintenance of varied ecological niches essential for the survival of numerous species.

Reflecting on the urgency of these conservation efforts, Seth Jackson, a project manager with the National Trust, highlighted a review from 2020 indicating a concerning decline in 40% of the reserve’s most significant plant species. The fragmentation and loss of species like the twin-headed clover and dwarf rush from numerous sites over a span of just 40 years underline the critical need for action.

“The most important task ahead is broadening wild populations, fostering natural recolonization, and mitigating the anticipated effects of climate change,” Jackson emphasized, noting the importance of collaborative efforts with local communities, tenants, and graziers for sustainable habitat management and conservation.

Karen Shelley-Jones, from Natural England, expressed enthusiasm for the partnership on this conservation project, aimed at bespoke actions to curb the risk of extinction for some of the most threatened species. Similarly, technical adviser Andrew Byfield pointed out the significance of the Lizard as an exceptional coastal landscape, asserting that safeguarding these threatened species is crucial for the preservation of the entire territory.

This ambitious project not only seeks to conserve the rare and threatened species that adorn the Lizard but also strives to maintain its remarkable landscape, thereby ensuring the survival and flourish of more common species within this spectacular coastal reserve.

Ava Bloom

Ava Bloom is an eco-influencer and sustainability coach who has transformed her commitment to a zero-waste lifestyle into a catalyst for change. Through her engaging social media presence and hands-on workshops, Ava teaches the beauty and feasibility of sustainable living. Her journey is one of continuous learning and sharing, from eco-friendly home practices to advocating for sustainable fashion. Ava's articles are a treasure trove of tips, tricks, and motivational insights, empowering readers to make small changes that have a big impact on our planet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *