Conference a resounding success!

Over 130 delegates attended this year's very successful Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Annual Conference.

‘Working in Partnership for Nature’ was the main message for the conference which was held on Saturday 20th May at Goonhilly Earth Station on the Lizard.

Over the past 5 years, the Cornwall AONB Unit, the National Trust, Natural England, the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, The University of Exeter and the National Farmers Union have come together to better co-ordinate work to conserve the outstanding habitats and wildlife of the Lizard Peninsula, under the banner of the 'Linking the Lizard Partnership'.

One of the major successes of the Partnership, in 2016, was the extension of the Lizard National Nature Reserve (NNR) by Natural England with the inclusion of land holdings from Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the National Trust, making it the largest National Nature Reserve in the South West. The Conference celebrated this and many other gains for nature in the AONB in 2016.

Sir Ferrers Vyvyan, owner of Trelowarren Estate opened this year's proceedings with a unique view on the conservation of nature from a man whose family have lived on the Lizard, at Trelowarren Estate for 600 years!

Dame Helen Ghosh, Director General of the National Trust was this year's keynote speaker. She gave an inspirational talk on  the National Trust - preserving the landscape forever, for everyone, including for wildlife! She stressed the huge importance of working together to address the severe challenges faced by nature. The morning presentations were rounded off by Colette Beckham of the Cornwall AONB Unit and Matthew Thomson, Chief Executive of Fifteen Cornwall and Co-chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Nature Partnership.

Conference attendees were treated to a range of nature based field trips and workshops in the afternoon led by The National Trust, Natural England, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the Cornwall Seal Research Group. Groups learnt more about the biodiversity and management of the National Nature Reserve and about the efforts to conserve  Cornwall's iconic bird, the Chough and our unique grey seals. Another group discussed how to improve the farmed landscape for bees as part of the Cornwall AONB Unit's 'Farms for AONBees' project. In addition, a group led by Andy Hughes of Cornwall College brushed up on their landscape photography skills.

The event concluded with a series of short plenary talks from Sandy Pulfrey of 'Welcome to Wild Lizard' (the Lizard Tourism Association); Sue Scott from The Helford Voluntary Marine Conservation Group and the newly appointed Director of the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter in Penryn, Professor Juliet Osborne. The  event concluded  in true Cornish style with some shanties from the Lizard’s finest – the Cadgwith Singers.

Colette Beckham, Cornwall’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership Manager was thrilled to have hosted such an inspiring event, “Nature is in trouble in the AONB, in Cornwall, in the UK and globally. We wanted to use our conference this year to celebrate the outstanding work happening in the AONB to support biodiversity and to show that working together is critical to a future for wildlife.

The Lizard is fast becoming a destination of choice for nature lovers everywhere and as such is one of the finest landscapes on offer in the AONB. The story of the Lizard NNR is a great example of what can be achieved by working in partnership and we hope the conference will have inspired all who came to create new conservation success stories across Cornwall”.

Cornwall AONB Annual Conference 2017 - is now fully booked!

'Working in Partnership for Nature'

Saturday 20 May 2017 - Goonhilly Earth Station, The Lizard, Cornwall.

ET Croft Pascoe Pool & Goonhilly.jpg

With just over 100 delegates booked to attend, the Annual Conference is now fully booked. Our 'reserves list' is also now full as well.  Apologies for any disappointment.  We will post info, presentations, photos etc of the day's proceedings after the event on here.


The theme of this year's conference is 'Working in Partnership for Nature' and is a key event in a season of events to celebrate the extension of the Lizard National Nature Reserve. We are delighted to announce that this year's keynote speakers will be, 

Dame Helen Ghosh, Director General, The National Trust

Matthew Thomson, Co-Chair, Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Nature Partnership and Chief Executive, Fifteen Cornwall

The conference will be opened by Sir Ferrers Vyvyan, owner of the Trelowarren Estate.

The day will highlight the plight of nature but will focus on the positive action that is happening in Cornwall to restore biodiversity and what more can be done,  through the joint action of conservation organisations and local volunteers. 

Over the past 5 years, the National Trust, Natural England, Cornwall Wildlife Trust, The Cornwall AONB Unit, and the National Farmers Union have come together on the Lizard under the banner 'Linking the Lizard Partnership'. One of the major successes of the Partnership is the extension by Natural England of the Lizard NNR through the addition of Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the National Trust land holdings to create the largest National Nature Reserve (NNR) in the South West.

The conference will take place at Goonhilly Earth Station, located right in the heart of the NNR. In the afternoon, you will be heading out on a number of fascinating field trips to explore the work taking place across the Lizard to build a better future for wildlife. Of course this will also give us a chance to drink in the amazing landscapes of the AONB on the Lizard Peninsula.

Later in the day, there will be some quick-fire plenary talks from a variety of organisations and people who are all working their socks off for nature.

We'll round of the day in fine Cornish style with some pasties for tea accompanied by the rambunctious Cadgwith Singers!



09.30 - 10.00  Registration, tea and coffee


Welcome and introduction - Dr Robert Kirby-Harris, Chairman, Cornwall AONB Partnership

 Opening remarks - Sir Ferrers Vyvyan, Trelowarren Estate 

'The National Trust - Working in Partnership for Nature' – Dame Helen Ghosh, Director General, The National Trust

'environmental growth and the local nature partnership' - MATTHEW THOMSON, CO-CHAIR, CORNWALL & ISLES OF SCILLY LOCAL NATURE PARTNERSHIP AND chief exec, fifteen cornwall 

Nature in the AONB - Stories from our year - Colette Beckham, Cornwall AONB Partnership Manager

Questions and Answers Session


12.15   Locally Sourced Lunch 

Planning Surgery* - during lunch delegates can speak to Jim Wood, Cornwall AONB Planning Officer about local planning issues max 5 mins per delegate (*prior booking essential)

Tour of Goonhilly Earth Station* – (NOW FULLY BOOKED) during lunch delegates can book on a short guided tour of Goonhilly Earth Station, led by Shaun Richardson, Goonhilly Estate Manager.  An interesting and informative tour of the work taking place at the Earth Station and will include walking outside around the estate (*prior booking essential - now fully booked)

1.15  Afternoon

Field trips and indoor workshop sessions.  Delegates will attend ONE of the following field trips or indoor activities (prior booking essential - see booking form)

Delegates to attend ONE of the following:

1  Conservation grazing on the National Nature Reserve (NNR) in partnership with our farmers - Kynance.  Leader: Justin Whitehouse, The National Trust.  Field trip – off site to Kynance via bus.  Walking ability: Moderate

2  Farms for AONBees Project - working with land managers, advisors and farmers to produce tailor-made, pollinator friendly management recommendations to enhance the Cornish landscape for conservation and food and drink production.  Leader: Dr Grace Twiston-Davies, University of Exeter (Penryn campus) and Cornwall AONB.  Indoor activity (may include possible field trip to nearby farm).  Walking ability: Easy

3  Windmill Farm - part of the National Nature Reserve thanks to Partnership working.  Leader: Callum Deveney, Head of Nature Reserves, Cornwall Wildlife Trust.  Field trip - off site to Windmill Farm via bus.  Walking ability: Easy

4  Provoke The Picturesque - Photographic Workshop.  Walking and talking, using digital SLR camera, digital camera or iPhone camera.  A short walk around the local vicinity i.e. the paths next to the World War II radio stations and undertaking two specific visual arts tasks.  Leader: Andy Hughes, Photographer.  Please bring YOUR OWN: DSLR camera (with SD card) or a digital camera (with SD card) or an iPhone (no other phones please).  Outdoors walking on-site at Goonhilly Earth Station.  Walking ability: Easy

5  The Biodiversity of the Lizard National Nature Reserve (NNR).  Leader: Phil Bowler, Senior Reserves Manager, Natural England.  Field trip – off site.  Walking ability: Moderate

6  Working in partnership for two of Cornwall's speciality species; Cornish choughs and Atlantic Grey seals – walk and talk including the invaluable input of volunteers in these projects and will hopefully include opportunities to see choughs and seals.  Leaders: Catherine Lee, Community and Volunteering Officer, The National Trust; Sue Sayer, Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust and Nicola Shanks, RSPB.  Field trip to Lizard Point – off site via bus.  Walking ability: Easy/Moderate

3.30     Tea and Coffee at Goonhilly Earth Station

3.45     Plenary talks

Wild Lizard – Promoting the Lizard as a destination for nature, -  Sandy Pulfrey of The Hen House and "Welcome to Wild Lizard" Committee

Working together to protect our shores, - Sue Scott, Helford Voluntary Marine Conservation Area

The ESI and AONB - acronyms working together in Partnership - Prof Juliet Osborne, Director, Environment & Sustainability Institute/University of Exeter

4.15     Chairman’s closing remarks

4.25     Cadgwith Singers and Pasties for tea

5.00     Depart

Places on this conference are limited and it is now fully booked

Thrift in Lizard hedges.jpg

6000 Flowers Arts Project creates a buzz for bumblebees as Cornwall welcomes the first day of Spring

A new art show launched yesterday at The Environment and Sustainability Institute’s Creative Exchange as Cornwall welcomed the arrival of Spring.

Artist Josie Purcell alongside some of her work for 6000 Flowers

Artist Josie Purcell alongside some of her work for 6000 Flowers

‘6000 Flowers’ is artist Josie Purcell's response to the 'Farms for AONBees' pollinators’ project currently in progress between Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (CAONB) and The Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI), University of Exeter.

Spring sees bumblebee queens visiting up to 6000 Flowers per day to collect enough nectar and pollen to establish her colony. However at this time of year there can be a shortfall in the availability of high quality flowers across agricultural landscapes.

Josie is a photographer with a passion for alternative and historic photographic processes that have as little impact on the environment as possible. The image making technique she has implemented for this exhibition is the anthotype. This makes the most of nature's bounty through the use of a photosensitive emulsion made from the juice/pulp of plants, flowers and berries. The resulting delicate monochromatic images are produced within several hours or weeks depending on the solution used and the duration/strength of sunlight.

One of Josie's images

One of Josie's images

The ‘Farms for AONBees' project is seeking to make a significant difference to the quality of our landscapes for conservation and food production. At the core of this project is a computer programme developed in Prof. Juliet Osbornes’ pollinators research group at the ESI that replicates the foraging and colony survival of bees in realistic landscapes. The ESI and the CAONB are currently doing real time testing of the computer programme on agricultural holdings by working with 5 farms across the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Josie's exhibition draws on the science behind this project and its importance in helping us understand more about bees’ health, survival and the pollination they provide.

Researchers from the ESI with Josie

Researchers from the ESI with Josie

Colette Beckham, CAONB Partnership Manager says, “It’s great to see how science and the arts can come together through a project like Josie’s, to illustrate just how important it is to find solutions to the shortages of forage that can affect Cornish bumblebees whilst they’re on the wing right now”.

Dr Grace Twiston-Davies, the ESI Research Associate on the project says, “I am fascinated by Josie’s environmentally friendly techniques, powered by plants and combining traditional methods with modern technology, the perfect interpretation of our Farms for AONBees project”.

Josie with Dr Grace Twiston-Davies, ESI Research Associate and project lead for Farms for AONBees

Josie with Dr Grace Twiston-Davies, ESI Research Associate and project lead for Farms for AONBees

The 6000 Flowers exhibition is open to the public and will run in The Creative Exchange from 21st March 2017 to 12th May 2017.


 Farms for AONBees

The Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI)

The Creative Exchange programme

Josie Purcell Artist Statement

As a photographer, my interests lie mainly in alternative and historic practices yet include the digital world we now live in, particularly smartphone photography.

I set up a participatory photography enterprise, ShutterPod, a few years ago to introduce some of the now antiquated photographic process to new audiences. Despite the ease and accessibility of digital photography (since the 90s), which saw more traditional processes diminish, I believed that the tactile nature of these older techniques would eventually gain traction with new audiences and this is currently being borne out in a resurgent interest in them.

Many of the participatory workshops I run use the natural world as a means for creating artwork. Wanting to take this a step further, I began a MA in Photography with Falmouth University in 2016. A number of the older process or products I am interested in can use potentially toxic chemicals and as someone whose current practice is focussing on our human impact on the environment, the MA is providing an opportunity to research which photographic processes will have the least effect. 

Therefore, I am now using both the anthotype and cyanotype processes. The anthotype uses sunlight and the juice of vegetables, flowers or berries to create ethereal images in a variety of single colours, while the chemicals in the cyanotype produce beautiful blue and white shades made by the action of sunlight that can be washed in the ocean. Both are precursors to the official invention of photography as we know it. Their discovery is attributed to scientist, Sir John Herschel. It was botanist Anna Atkins who first used the cyanotype process to create the first photo-book to detail her botany research on British algae.

One of the peculiarities of both processes lies in their predisposition to fading if not cared for appropriately, while the anthotype in particular requires exposure times of hours, days or weeks.

The 6000 Flowers project is an amazing opportunity to showcase how science and art can come together to support our environment for the benefit of bumblebees.

It is through the use of the nature that I aim to reflect the aims of 6000 Flowers and its new software, created by the Environmental Science Institute researchers to monitor and, in turn, support pollinators on farmland within Cornwall’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

My images include rural landscapes but I have incorporated Victorian botanical drawings to represent (some of) the missing flowers needed to help bumblebees thrive. The flowers are currently not there in reality but it is through work such as this that it is hoped flowers will bloom and bumblebees will flourish.

By using processes with a kinder environmental impact, ones that use nature to create themselves and ones that require time, patience and ongoing care to prevent them fading away, I hope to spark curiosity for 6000 Flowers and conversation about our impact on pollinators and what can be done on an ongoing basis to bring about benefits for all.