No.81  - Winter - 1999/2000

What could be more Cornish or hold more biodiversity than our unique hedges? "Boundary features" are among the habitats prioritised, along with key species and areas, in Cornwall's Biodiversity Action Plans. Photo: Nick Tregenza

The B-word
Cornwall Biodiversity Initiative

What is biodiversity? A new kind of washing powder? No. Biodiversity means the variety of life - the diversity of all living things. It is important to all of us in terms of our survival and quality of life. In Cornwall our wealth of wildlife is all around us: we encounter it every day of our lives whether it be waking to the dawn chorus, walking down hedge-lined lanes, or looking out of the window at the sea, a stream or even old mine workings.

Unfortunately, biodiversity around the world is being lost at an alarming rate. In the UK alone it is estimated that we have lost about a hundred species this century. In Cornwall we have been losing a hundred kilometres of ancient and species-rich hedgerow each year! The large blue butterfly became extinct in 1973 and the chough - Cornwall's emblem - was last recorded in 1947.

At the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, world leaders pledged to fight against extinction and strive to protect the variety of life on earth - its biodiversity. In 1996 Cornwall launched its response in the form of the Cornwall Biodiversity Initiative. This partnership of government agencies, local authorities, conservation bodies, academics, industry, farmers, fishermen and landowners has come together to conserve and enhance biodiversity in our beautiful county.

The first step was to produce an audit - a modern-day Domesday Book for Cornwall's wildlife. This involved collating information from numerous sources, and from this audit we were able to identify those species and habitats most in need of action for survival. Volume 2: Cornwall's Biodiversity Action Plans was produced and launched in July 1998. This provides detailed actions and commitments from over a hundred partners to save and restore Cornwall's wealth of wildlife.

So, what now? Having published our action plans -all 37 of them - we now have to implement them. Considerable effort has been put into researching and writing the plans so it is vital now to keep the momentum going and ensure that actions are carried out successfully. This gargantuan task is being carried out by the many partners involved, with many actions already being incorporated into existing work programmes as well as new projects being developed. The role of theBiodiversity Project Officer is to co-ordinate efforts, provide support and guidance to the organisations involved, and maintain the profile of the Biodiversity Project Officer is to co-ordinate efforts, provide support and guidance to the organisations involved, and maintain the profile of the Initiative.

Monitoring the progress of actions and keeping track of what is happening around the county is an important part of the implementation process. A major step forward, in the form of a new database, has made this process much easier to handle. Hopefully it will make reporting on the progress of specific actions, as well as the project as a whole, much easier for everyone involved and will link directly to the Environmental Records Centre (ERCCIS) and thence to the National Biodiversity Network.

Public awareness and educating people about biodiversity is essential to the success of our action plans. We produce regular newsletters and press releases, organise events, and produce educational packs for schools to help them incorporate biodiversity into the curriculum in a fun and exciting way.

Our Biodiversity Action Plans will continue to develop and change, reflecting future changes in the fortunes of our wildlife. The overall objective of the Cornwall Biodiversity Initiative is to involve everyone in the process of working together to conserve Cornwall's wildlife. To make sure this plan works we need people's help and support to drive it forward into the next millennium and to protect and enhance our wealth of wildlife.

For more information on how to obtain a copy of Cornwall's Biodiversity Audit and Action Plans, the newsletter and the Wealth of Wildlife Explorer's Guide, or to get involved in specific action plans, contact Ruth Adams, Biodiversity Project Officer, on (01872) 245513.

Ruth Adams


Contents - Wild Cornwall - No.81  - Winter - 1999/2000

Index Wild Cornwall Magazines

Cornwall Wildlife Trust home page

Five Acres, Allet, Truro, TR4 9DJ
Tel: (01872) 273939 or (01872) 240777
Fax: (01872) 225476
e-mail: cornwt@cix.compulink.co.uk