A collaboration of coast and countryside organisations on The Lizard Peninsula

Nature Conservation on The Lizard

Although much of the unique natural history value of The Lizard was not recognized until relatively recently, its wildlife resources are now very well protected. There are a host of designations, dedicated organisations and individuals which combine to ensure that this priceless area is best conserved.

West coast clifftop habitat

‘Swailing’ – where there’s smoke there’s a reason

Apprentice Warden Claire Pumfrey with the controlled burning tools of the tradeThose of you who are regular watchers of the sky may have noticed in the last few weeks that it changed from its more traditional winter colour of battleship grey to something approaching a pleasing shade of blue. Yet, at this time of year, cometh the blue sky, cometh the smoke as farmers and conservationists alike took the opportunity of this window of dry and settled weather to burn selected patches of heathland. For those unfamiliar with the practice it appears a destructive form of habitat management, but carried out correctly it has a number of benefits for both graziers and wildlife and is regarded as one of man’s oldest land management tools, predating civilisation itself.

‘Up-cycling’ Marine Waste

Volunteers on The Lizard (and elsewhere in Cornwall) have been playing their part in an innovative recycling programme established by Keep Britain Tidy and Fathom’s Free which is helping transform marine plastics into swim wear, kayaks and more.

Volunteer Ranger Matt unloading abandoned fishing net found on Poldhu beachVolunteer Ranger Matt unloading abandoned fishing net found on Poldhu beach

National Trust Images: Catherine Lee

While we can all do our bit at home and in business to reduce single-use plastics there’s still a mind boggling amount of plastic in our oceans, much of which eventually washes up on the coast. Volunteers across Cornwall work tirelessly to collect beach rubbish to help protect wildlife and keep their special places healthier and looking beautiful. Unfortunately, most of the waste collected on beaches is presently sent to landfill which is something we are working to change.
Earlier this year, Friends of Poldhu (a National Trust beach cleaning group) collected over four cubic metres of abandoned fishing net and hard plastics from Poldhu beach. With the help of the recycling programme this waste will be recycled or ‘up-cycled’ into useful plastic products. For example: the hard plastics are being repurposed into ocean recycled kayaks.
A circular economy for marine plastics is a trend that will lead the way for cleaner oceans worldwide. We are proud to be working with Rob (founder of ‘Fathoms Free’ and director of ‘Odyssey Innovation Ltd.) whose efforts have recently been recognised by the Prime Minister through a ‘Points of Light’ award.
If you want to help us collect beach rubbish join the Friends of Poldhu beach cleaning group on the first Friday of every month 10am - 11am Oct - Mar and 7pm-8pm Apr – Sept.
The Marine Conversation Society runs the Great British Beach Clean in September, check out their website for information on how you can get involved at a beach near you: https://www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/greatbritishbeachclean
Published: Aug 2018
Author: Catherine Lee, Community and Volunteering Officer, Lizard National Trust

“So, what exactly is your job?”

This is a question I’ve been asked many times since I donned the mantle of “Survey and Monitoring Trainee” at Natural England. Tom, my fellow trainee, and I find ourselves in the rather enviable position of spending three months involved in a wide and varied plethora of tasks touching upon varying aspects of the management and conservation efforts within a National Nature Reserve.

Tom preparing to herd some Shetland ponies at the cliffs at Caerthillian Maintenance of the invisible fences at Caerthillian

Before I moved here I was promised by anyone I discussed my impending placement with that I was relocating to one of the most beautiful locations in the country, with more wildlife and biodiversity than I could shake a stick at. I will readily admit that, one month in, I have not been disappointed. With tasks ranging from surveying marsh fritillary habitats, herding Shetland ponies, discovering new colonies of the Red Data Book Species land quillwort (Isoetes histrix), and failing to register historic ones, maintaining invisible fences, nest-watching Cornish choughs, partaking in guided woodland walks and observing barn-owl ringing we’ve got more than just a flavour of what conservation on the Lizard is all about.

A new bridge for Carleon Cove

View of completed bridgeWalkers passing through Carleon Cove, near Cadgwith, on the Lizard's east coast are in for a treat, thanks to the completion of a stunning new footbridge that carries the South West Coast Path over the Poltesco River.

The bridge has been designed to reflect the curved lines of a boat, and it is made in oak and larch, with stainless steel tension wires.

We knew the old bridge was near to the end of its life, so we decided to take the opportunity to do something different, to build a bridge that really did justice to this lovely place. We wanted a bridge that encouraged people to stop and linger. Most importantly, it had to be a good place to play Pooh sticks as that's always a favourite with the many school groups we bring here!

A new website for an old partnership

Loe Pool

Loe Pool Forum (LPF) is a catchment based partnership concerned with water pollution in Loe Pool and the impacts of flood risk management for Helston on the natural environment downstream of the town. LPF thinks of itself as sister ship to Linking the Lizard Partner-Ship. Moored alongside in the geographical sense, but working to improve the water environment rather than the terrestrial biodiversity. To stretch the metaphor LPF even share some crew; Alastair Cameron (National Trust) and Jeremy Clitherow (Natural England) who are on the bridge of both partner-ships.

A Summary of Sightings at Windmill Farm National Nature Reserve

Windmill FarmAnother great year at Windmill Farm! Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the CBWPS continue to provide excellent support to the upkeep, development and regeneration of the farm back to its natural habitat. Windmill Farm is, by design and nature, a boggy environment and heavy rain can cause the footpaths to become muddy – I advise that you always have your wellies with you and if it is particularly boggy/wet you may have to refrain from certain areas of the farm. The trust and helpers try their utmost (with scarce resource) to keep all paths clear at all times but it is not always possible. A big thank you from me – as always if any of you wish to help out please look on the CWT and CBWPS websites for events/dates. Also if you have anything you wish to discuss please contact me, or either of the Boards' of the societies, as we are always happy to listen, engage and discuss.

A Thoroughly Modern Ancient Trackway


A 14 –tonne digger and a king size dumper truck are not what you expect to encounter amidst the skylarks and meadow pipits and general blissful tranquillity of Goonhilly Downs National Nature Reserve. But a few weeks ago that is exactly what you would have found – contractors Gordy and Ky turning their skills to restoring an old trackway for the benefit of the pigmy rush (Juncus pygmaeus).

A Winter amongst the Trees and Woods at Penrose

The 2018/19 winter season has been full of brilliant woodland and tree work across Penrose. With the help of many dedicated volunteers this winter existing woodland and orchards have been improved whilst new woodland strips and parkland trees have been planted.
We started the woodland season in Shadywalk Wood burning large piles of now dry laurel felled out the previous year, processing other timber and continuing the progress through the woods removing invasive species and thinning the densest areas to allow in more light. Already, this spring, we’re seeing the benefits; lots of new wildflower growth is slowly spreading into these areas.

Volunteers burning last year’s laurel in the woodVolunteers burning last year’s laurel in the woods

In the first couple of weeks of the New Year lots of woodland management was completed by the Woodland Volunteers, Conservation Volunteers and Lizard and Penrose Rangers in the woods behind the Walled Garden. The work focused on the removal of dangerous trees and invasive rhododendron, cherry laurel and hydrangea as well as clearing around an historic archway and thinning of sycamore regrowth. Lots of the brash has been neatly constructed into windrows offering good habitat to birds, mammals and insects.

Windrows in the late afternoon sunWindrows in the late afternoon sun

The Woodland Volunteers installed a tree guard - made from chestnut posts milled from a large chestnut tree which was blown over at Tremayne on the southern Helford - in the Penrose parkland. In the centre of the guard a Lucombe oak has been planted. Lucombe oaks are hybrids of Turkey and Cork oaks, two of which were planted at Penrose in the 1770s, around ten years after the hybrid was first discovered.

A year in the life of a National Trust pony

Grazing the heath at Beagles Grazing the heath at Beagles

The National Trust has had ponies here on the Lizard for over 20 years, grazing the coastal heaths and grasslands for the benefit of wildlife. Our original herd, now aged over 30, is still going strong, proving a life of sea air does you good! These purebred Shetland ponies came to us from Arlington Court, a National Trust estate in north Devon, where some of their old pals still live today.

Another Year nearly over and what a year!!!!

Grazing poniesThe year started with those incredible storms, and a lot of damage to coastal sites, land slips, beaches, popular with our summer visitors cleared of the sand –and then - WE HAD A SUMMER, the first proper summer for years, it was fantastic and the Lizard was transformed again with an amazing flowering season, and we here at NE managed to get work done that we had we planning for years, getting to parts of the NNR, that needed to be dry to carry out repairs to fencing and gates, we managed to get some species monitoring done, and our 11 graziers were able to get their stock out on time to help us manage the reserve.

Bumper Broods and New Nests for Choughs in Cornwall

chough image 2015 6 20150527 1895212043Teams of RSPB and National Trust volunteers have been watching chough nest sites across Cornwall again this spring. Despite a battering from some very strong and cold easterly winds, the 'Chough Watch' volunteers have put in many hours to make sure that disturbance around nest sites was kept to a minimum, and it has paid off!


Calling All Friends of Kennack Sands

Kennack Sands on The Lizard is one of our finest Cornish beaches. It is cherished by locals and visitors alike. In order to help safeguard this precious place, and to give people a stake in the ongoing management, we are meeting to form the Friends of Kennack Sands. We are calling all with an interest in the area to come along on Tuesday Jan 17th at Ruan Minor Village Hall at 7pm.Kennack Sands

Last summer the beach was thrown into a crisis when Cornwall Council withdrew the litter collection. Local interests worked hard to find a solution, and it was apparent how significant the beach is to so many residents. By forming the group we hope to capture some of that passion and give the local community a much greater sense of ownership of this beauty spot.

Calling Botanists for Survey Days in June Please

We are looking for botanists of all abilities to help with the first repeat of our 4-yearly quadrat survey on the Lizard National Nature Reserve. If you fancy getting involved in a few days of sun-drenched (not guaranteed), unique botanising (guaranteed) then this could be for you. It is a bit of a botanical jamboree with about 40 botanists taking part – half from Natural England and half local naturalists.

Since 2011 over 850 volunteers from NE and our partner organisations have participated in vegetation surveys on Long Term Monitoring Network (LTMN) sites. The Lizard NNR is part of this network and is due to be resurveyed this year from the 20th June – 23rd June (inclusive). The survey will help us to understand how changes in the natural environment relate to climate change, air pollution and land management and we'd like to invite you to take part.

Can you help a pony look after a Lizard?

Grazing ponies

Grazing animals have had a presence here on the Lizard since man’s earliest attempts to manage this unique landscape, and ponies have been part of that picture from the very beginning. Indeed, until the height of the tin mining industry here in Cornwall there was an indigenous breed of pony known as a ‘Goonhilly’ that could be found across the heaths and open spaces of the Lizard. Changes in industry swept away this native breed, just as later changes in agriculture swept away the centuries old local traditions of heathland and coastal grazing.

Exmoor pony

But in the past two decades these traditions have returned and once more taken centre stage in the successful management of the Lizard’s wild and special landscape.