Project

Wheal Buzzy Bee Healthy Walks begin January 23rd and other chances to become involved in the project

The AONB’s lottery funded Wheal Buzzy Project is up and running!

Wheal Buzzy is a unique project where over the course of the next two years we will be working with Landowners, Community Groups, Schools and Individuals to enhance and create habitats for Cornwall’s nationally important Solitary Bee population. Of the UK’s 250 species of Solitary Bee, Cornwall is home to roughly 190 individual species of Solitary Bees (Miner Bees).

Black headed mining bee.JPG

Beyond initially working across 16 individual sites (22 Hectares) we will be running regular walks “Bee Healthy Walks”

Bee Healthy Walks, are a series of “Health walks” in some of the most iconic areas of Cornwall AONB all of which have a strong link to our important colonies of miner bees.

A health walk is a led walk, which normally lasts between 30 minutes to an hour. Walking as a group provides not only the physical benefits of walking but also social contact and its associated support

Under the mantle of ‘Bee Healthy Walks’ We launch in St Agnes on January 23rd with our first walk beginning from the Reepers Coombe car park at 10am this will be a leisurely circular walk of approximately 1 mile with some steep climbs (with points to stop and rest) followed by an opportunity for tea and cake at the end of the walk.

Walks will be graded according to guidance taken from the rambler’s association website; full details of upcoming walks for the next few weeks will be available on the AONB website soon. In the meantime if you would like any further information or to register an interest please contact charlotte.goodship@cornwall.gov.uk or 01872 322307..

Walks in St Agnes will take place weekly from 23rd of January, following on from St Agnes we will be rolling them out in St Ives and St Just later in the spring.

Wheal Buzzy is a project which has the community and individuals at its very heart, as such there will be a number of opportunities for you to become involved the first of which is a Buzzy Volunteer Day at St Ives Community Orchard on February 16th https://www.facebook.com/events/268194173851375/

18th July St Ives Orchard Talk.jpg

A Monumental Improvement makes a great start!

The Cornwall AONB is home to an often forgotten, but equally outstanding heritage that collectively covers over 3,000 years of Cornish history from the Bronze Age to the Second World War. The Cornwall AONB Partnership has been developing a new project to safeguard and enhance the most vulnerable 140 scheduled sites across the AONB area since April and this has made a successful start.

Nine Stones Circle on Bodmin Moor

Nine Stones Circle on Bodmin Moor

Thanks to a grant of £9,700 from Historic England awarded in March 2018 and supported by the professional skills of the Cornwall Archaeological Unit we have been able to survey and assess 118 of the 140 sites with the active support of local conservation groups and Truro College.

This work achieved the training of 65 local residents in surveying skills at four training events across the Duchy including Truro College, Liskeard, Helston and Maker between April and June.  We were overwhelmed and extremely thankful that thirty of these local residents kindly helped us to survey and record many of the 118 sites, applying their new skills and developing new interests and aspirations to volunteer to help support and safeguard Cornwall’s proud built heritage.

Rame Conservation Trust volunteers learn how to record scheduled forts in our beautiful Rame Head section under the professional gaze of Cornwall Archaeological Unit’s James Gossip

Rame Conservation Trust volunteers learn how to record scheduled forts in our beautiful Rame Head section under the professional gaze of Cornwall Archaeological Unit’s James Gossip

The training was very well received with the Cornwall Archaelogical Society’s Rosy Hanns saying: -

Thanks for a smashing day! I really enjoyed learning more about Rame.


Rame Conservation Trust’s Lyn Reid also said: -

Thank you for organising the scheduled monuments event - it was a thoroughly enjoyable day. We appreciate all your expertise and advice.

Volunteers went on to help prioritise 40 of the 118 sites for the development of a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund and other funders in 2019. These sites are the most accessible ones and have the most scope to meet the requirements of funders. In addition a number of the volunteer groups gained new members with different skills and experience.

As Iain from the Cornwall Archaeological Society says: -

I really think this project will re-invigourate the Area Reps (Cornwall Archaeological Society’s Monument Watch volunteers).

The stunning triple coastal forts at Trethias on the north coast

The stunning triple coastal forts at Trethias on the north coast

We look forward to continuing to work with local people and our partners to secure further funding for the project in 2019.

ROADS FOR HUMANS AND NATURE

Understanding the value of our roadside hedges and verges.

The Cornwall AONB Unit is working in partnership with the Environment & Sustainability Institute (University of Exeter) to study hedges and road verges. The four year project is exploring their role in conserving nature and providing benefits to people, and investigating how to manage them in the best way possible.

Southern marsh orchids ( Dactylorhiza praetermissa ) in a road verge near Hayle.

Southern marsh orchids (Dactylorhiza praetermissa) in a road verge near Hayle.

 At last count, there were 4,616 miles (7,430 kilometres) of roads in Cornwall. Narrow lanes, tall hedges and stone-faced earth banks are deeply characteristic of the Cornish landscape. In many cases, they mark ancient routes or boundaries, with some hedges dating from as far back as 6,000 years ago. Whilst roads undoubtedly have some negative impacts for nature, they also provide important potential habitat because most roads are bordered by a thin strip of land in the form of a hedge or verge. These roadside habitats provide incredible untapped potential because (i) They cover a substantial area of land when summed across Cornwall and the UK, and (ii) There is little or no competition for their use. Beyond their clear purpose as boundary markers, roadside verges and hedgerows support a surprising diversity of life and are home to many rare and threatened species. For example, the charity Plantlife report that over 800 plant species can be found in UK roadside hedges and verges, including 100 ‘threatened’ or ‘near threatened’ species.

 Roadside habitats are therefore important for providing:

  • Food and shelter for many species (from mosses and ferns to bats and bees).

  • A vast network along which species can move and disperse.

  • Benefits to humans, such as capturing vehicle pollutants, slowing rainwater run-off and, in theory, could provide natural beauty to road users.

A garden bumblebee ( Bombus hortorum ) feeding on common knapweed ( Centaurea nigra ) in a road verge near Veryan on the Roseland Peninsula.

A garden bumblebee (Bombus hortorum) feeding on common knapweed (Centaurea nigra) in a road verge near Veryan on the Roseland Peninsula.

Since September 2017, the Cornwall AONB has been working in partnership with the Environment & Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter to study these roadside habitats. The project is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and is being carried out by Ben Phillips, a PhD student at the University of Exeter’s Environment & Sustainability Institute in Penryn.

 

The general questions that we are looking to answer are:

  • How do roadside hedges and verges support wildlife?

  • What benefits to humans are provided by roadside hedges and verges?

  • How can we improve management of roadside hedges and verges?

 The project is now one year in and will continue until 2021. Over the past year, we have looked at the role that hedges and road verges play in supporting plants, flowers and pollinators in farmland. This is important because insect such as bees are crucial for the pollination of many crops and of wild plants, but have suffered declines in recent decades. The early findings show that hedges and road verges are essential in providing food (flowers) for pollinators in farmland, as there is often very little food for pollinators within fields. However, the way in which these are managed has a big impact on the amount of flowers provided, and other factors such as high traffic on roads can cause pollution and disturbance which probably affect the value of road verges to pollinators. We have also begun to consider the broader range of benefits that are provided to people. For example, rainwater may be slowed and absorbed by roadside vegetation, reducing flooding, soil erosion and contamination of water sources.

A road verge in spring (left) and in summer after cutting (right), just outside of Blackwater.

A road verge in spring (left) and in summer after cutting (right), just outside of Blackwater.

bens verge after.jpg

Over the next two years, we plan to develop a set of management guidelines for road verges in the County. We will also be further exploring some of the negative impacts of roads on wildlife in road verges, such as the impact of pollution, and how to make best use of road verges given this. Finally, we aim to learn about people’s attitudes to road verges and different management options, as well as barriers and opportunities for changing management. The aim is to find a practical way forward to making our roadside hedges and verges a positive space for nature that can benefit both people and wildlife in the region.

 

To find out more about the project, contact Ben at B.B.Phillips@exeter.ac.uk.