Friday, 26 October 2012

80 volunteers give the Lizard's famous rare wildflowers a helping hand

University of Exeter students lend a hand for wildlife

It's been a busy few weeks on the Lizard, with over 80 different volunteers aged 17 to 70 kindly donating many an hour to help safeguard some of our rarest wildflowers. 

First up, our working holiday team of 12 tackled the outcrops at Carn Barrow, near Cadgwith, where the resident cows kept a careful eye on proceedings! The old quarries here support a wealth of rarities including dwarf rush and a tiny grass like fern named land quillwort. Thanks to the team's hard work, the outcrops have been saved from encroaching scrub.

Rare and tiny - dwarf rush

Next up came 30 willing volunteers from the University of Exeter Cornwall Campus. The Geography students joined us for a day's work experience, tackling gorse on an outcrop at Bodriggy, near Cadgwith. This site is one of the few in Cornwall supporting four leaved allseed, which requires open ground to germinate and thrive. No cows to entertain here, just two inquisitive goats! The students made short work of clearing the whole site. 

Lizard speciality, twin headed clover

Moving on round the coast, to the cliffs above Poltesco, 35 students from Truro College joined us for a day out and about, where the aim was to clear yet more gorse from outcrops where our ponies graze. Here we've slowly been restoring the outcrops to more open grassy habitat, with the hope that the pretty little twin headed clover will make a re-appearance, last seen here 30 years ago. It's recently been refound on a neighbouring outcrop, so all looks hopeful now conditions are right.

What's happening here then? Inquisitive cows watch working holiday volunteers 

Special mention must also go to our team of regular volunteers, both residential and local, who have got involved too. Yes you guessed it - clearing scrub from rare plant sites! We've even been out and about lending a hand away from National Trust land, as part of a co-ordinated plan of winter work, led by representatives from all the local groups with an interest in the Lizard's rare plants. We spent half a day opening up overgrown trackway puddles that support a rare mint called Pennyroyal at Penhale near Mullion.

Thanks to all this hard work, we've got off to a great start this habitat management season, and the future is looking brighter for the Lizard's rarest plants.


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