Cornwall LIFE Project


A preliminary batch of results from the LIFE Project was used to launch our Habitat Appeal in October, and shows that wildlife habitat is still being lost at an astonishing rate of more than 3% a decade. This means that urgent action is needed by the Wildlife Trust.

The final results from the project will be available early in 1997 and the system will be used extensively in die first six mondis of the year to analyse trends and examine specific cases of loss of wildhfe habitat.

Data capture, checking & editing

As I write. two thirds of Cornwall have been mapped and analysed for land- cover chance. Viv. Sarah and Nick are spending long hours making sure that the information is of a high standard and sutable for detailed analysis.

An assessment earlier in the year of gaps in our data led to the commissioning of further capture of graphic data sets. These include National Trust land (both freehold and covenanted). tree preservation orders, Cornwall Wildlife Trust nature reserves. Woodland Trust nature reserves and RSPB nature reserves. They will be used in an assessment of the degree of protection of wildlife habitat across Cornwall, and will be supplied in digital and paper form to the organisations providing the data. In particular. the National Trust has spent a "reat deal of time helping us to get its data into a suitable format.

Customising the system

Customisation is now complete. and a rance of menu-driven facilities is available. One of the most powerful facilities is "land-cover change analysis". which allows users to choose categories of habitat gain and loss: to see where the gain/loss occurred: and to see what designation applied to that land. For example. you can choose loss of wetland and gain of agricultural land. and see where that pairing of gain/loss occurred within Cornwall Nature Conservation Sites as compared to the rest of the countryside. Another powerful facility. "squares query". allows you to select 1km squares that meet user-specified conditions, e.g. greater than 25% broadleaved woodland. This is invaluable for identifying areas of Cornwall that have specific combinations and densities of wildlife habitat.

Members of the Trust who would like to see the system in action are welcome to contact me at the Triist to arrange a demonstration.

Using the system

Detailed discussions have started with the County Council on the development plan applications ,of the system. These include auditing the effectiveness of existing development plan policies using the "land-cover change analysis" facility described above. and drawing revised versions of policy boundaries using the "query squares" lacility.

Other uses include the Trust's analysis ,of trends in habitat loss hr the Habitat Appeal and for the recently established Cornwall Local Biodiversitv Initiative.

Christopher Howe


Snippets


Gliding Snake
Insect Line Providing an up-to-date information service on butterflies. moths. dragonflies, damsel flies etc.. Insect Line - 0891 700250 - will be re-established in spring 1997. to offer information, or request further details of the service. call (01565) 722928.

Mark Nicholson

Veryan Wildlife Watch

A bat workshop was held at the beginning of August. and at the end of the summer holidays we met to learn about the lives and adaptations of owls. Barn owl pellets were dissected at half- term and yielded skulls of the predictable field vole. wood mouse. common shrew and bank vole. This is always an exciting event. It is less well known that birds of prey are not the only ones to have developed this strategy to reduce unnecessary body weight and hence promote economy of energy. Many other birds have similar strategies. e.c. blackbirds regurgitate the coral-pink seeds of ivy berries. Rooks too. especially when eatine larce quantities of grain. regurgitate Fibrous straw-coloured pellets consisting of seed coats and the occasional beetle and earthworm remains. together with "izzard stones. Under trees. the stones remain in small clusters following the disintegration of the pellet and are quite easy to spot with practice. Curlews go one Step further and regurgitate the gizzard lining as well - has anyone ever found any? We would be interested to know.

Marion James

Biodiversity partnership

For the first time ever. information on the wildlife of the South West has been drawn together in a single document. Entitled "The biodiversity of the South- West: an audit of the South-West biological resource". it has been prepared by a partnership including the RSPB. The Wildlife Trusts and the South West Regional Planning Conference (an alliance of local authorities). The document is essential to everyone interested or involved in conservation. including Government departments and acencies. local authorities. gron psand individuals. It will be used to inf()rm generally. and to guide biodiversity work programmes. Details are included of: over 30 key habitats, their current status. and an assessment of threats and conservation opportunities: 34 UK endemic species, of which 11 are found only in the South West: over 20 globally threatened species,' over 700 species of conservation concern.

Copies are available at 15 including p&p (payable to RSPB) from Helene Jessop. RSPB, 10 Richmond Road, Exeter, Devon EX4 4JA.

Mark Nicholson.


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