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”.