Conservation news

Since the last magazine the Trust has had the first figures for recent habitat loss from the LIFE Project, which show that the decline in wildlife habitat continues apace. As part of the Trust's action to stop the decline, a Countryside Advisory Service has been established with a dedicated project officer. Other immediate action includes the appointment of a Biodiversity Initiative Project Officer tth work on the Biodiversity Audit for CornwalL Both actions have resulted in immediate benefits for wildlife.

The Trust is working hard to increase its action in the marine environment, and I hope that by the next magazine I will be able to report good news with respect to this as welL

Regional Biodiversity Initiative

Copies of the audit are available from the RSPB - see page 7.

The 20 regional biodiversity action plans being drawn up by the partnership are nearing completion, with substantial input from Trust staff and others in the county. The next stage is to implement these plans and see some real changes on land and at sea.

Wildlife Trust's Conservation Technical Advisory Group

I continue to represent the South West Trusts Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire, Avon and Gloucestershire on this national group. My responsibilities include taking matters of concern in the re~~ion to meetings and reporting hack to the region any decisions that are made.

Cornwall Local Biodiversity Initiative

The initiative now has a dedicated project officer, Philippa Hoskin, who is based at Trust HQ. David Brown at North Cornwall District Council (Higher Trenani Road, Wadebridge, Cornwall, PL27 6TW; is still the secretary of the group. Philippa is concerned mainly with producing an audit of Cornwall's biodiversity, including species and habitat accounts, trends and key issues. Priorities will be identified in consultation with other experts in Cornwall and the audit will be published in June 1997. At this stage the partners in the initiative, which include over 50 representatives from District Councils, the County Council, businesses and voluntary bodies, as well as individuals, will set up smaller groups aimed at drawing up and implementing specific action plans for the identified priorities.

black darter over Bodmin Moor
Black Darter over Bodmin moor. Illustration: Sarah McCartney

Countryside Advisory Service

The Trust has established a Countryside Advisory Service to combine the work being done as part of the RSPB LIFE Heathlands Project, the response to individual approaches made to the Trust by members and others, and the targeted advice work needed to act on the results of the LIFE Project habitat analysis.

A dedicated project officer, Sion Brackenbury. has been appointed for an initial six-month period to deal with most of the advisory work. although existing staff will still be involved with individual cases.

All advice provided will be tailored to suit the individual landowner's requirements and circumstances. Services will range from an advisory visit, followed up by a short written report, to the preparation of a full site management plan. Sion will work closely with other organisations such as English Nature, RSPB, MAFF and the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group.

One of the main aims of the service is to promote the effective uptake of land- based grants such as Countryside Stewardship. This will benefit wildlife and people, by providing the funds for landowners to carry out beneficial management as well as bringing national funds into the Cornish economy.

Roadside Verge Audit

With support from English Nature, the Trust has appointed a project officer to undertake a roadside verge audit in Cornwall. Catriona Neil will be compiling an inventory of verges which are of conservation interest. including geological and biological sites. Results so far show that Cornish verges are important wildlife habitats: some support Red Data Book insects and plants, others have attractive flower swards where orchid colonies thrive. and recent roadworks expose interesting and important rock formations.


The Trust deals with over 400 planning applications every year. and recent important cases involving prime sites for wildlife have included the proposals for a recycling centre at Newlyn Downs. and the planned new sewage treatment works in the Seaton Valley.

In all cases the Trust puts forward the nature conservation case and advises on whether the proposals are acceptable from a nature conservation point of view. It is then up to local plannin~ officials to balance this with other factors and make a recommendation to their elected members. The final decision is taken by the appropriate elected planning committee at district or county level.

Staff news: congratulations to Conservation Officer Tania Acuna on the birth of her son Pelham - we look forward to her return in the spring.

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