Islanders Urged To Support Local Wildlife Trust As Groundbreaking Report Published

wildlife trust flagThe manager of Scilly’s Wildlife Trust says we shouldn’t be complacent about the enviable landscape we enjoy here on the islands and people need to support their local organisation.

Sarah Mason was speaking on the day the groundbreaking ‘State of Nature’ report is launched. For the first time ever, scientists from 25 different UK wildlife organisations have come together to make a detailed survey of British flora and fauna.

And Sarah says the work contains some shocking statistics, with 60% of the UK’s species in decline and one in ten threatened with disappearing altogether.

She says some people will look around our islands and think that we shouldn’t be worried, especially with our diverse and unique species like the Scilly shrew, red barbed ant and dwarf pansy.

But she says even here, there have been ‘staggering’ declines in the numbers of kittiwakes and common terns, while the roseate tern, which was once common, has all but disappeared.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, with recent sightings of the unique Scilly bee, increasing numbers of meadow pipits nesting in our heathland and sightings of the grass eggar moth, which is scarce on the mainland.

From Radio Scilly

Wildlife Trust manager, Sarah Mason talks to Radio Scilly

And the 25-year Seabird Recovery Project has also launched this year.

Sarah says people often don’t realise how much of our landscape is managed. There are few truly wild places left in the UK and what we think of as countryside has been managed for centuries by farmers and nature organisations.

And she says if that didn’t happen in Scilly, we’d soon be overrun by pittosporum, gorse and bracken.

Sarah says a lot of her counterparts on the mainland are very envious of her job because the landscape in Scilly is so special.  She moved here earlier this year from a large Wildlife Trust in Gloucestershire, with a staff of 40 and 27,000 members.

Scilly’s Trust, she says, is viewed as small but effective with an enviable diversity of wildlife, but money is always scarce, especially in these difficult financial times. There’s always a fear that money could dry up and she says they have to find creative ways to ensure they can continue to manage the islands’ landscape.

Sarah wants people to read the report, so they can see why they need to support their Wildlife Trust. And she says if people are shocked by it, then they need to write to their MPs to let them know.



18 Responses to Islanders Urged To Support Local Wildlife Trust As Groundbreaking Report Published

  1. Kev Wright May 24, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Well thanks for an informed, thought provoking and mature factual debate, Rob! We must do this more often!

    • Rob May 24, 2013 at 6:57 pm

      No point in flogging a dead horse Kev

  2. Rob May 23, 2013 at 9:53 am

    I think you’ll find that its the heathland (waves of heath) that they are trying to alter not the old disused field systems.
    by the by! if we come out of europe, all the grant funded activity in Scilly will be halted, thats a lot of jobs, most of scilly! no WLT.

  3. Stuart Moore May 22, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    I’m not bothered by the WLT one way or the other, the cows annoyed me, but this year they seem to have got the message and planted their electric fences to the proper side of the paths and given up on trying to get us to create a new path 3′ to the right of an existing path.
    Kev, is right there is very little countryside that has not been altered by man over the ages, but I do agree with some of the others on here, leave nature alone and she will look after herself.

    Regarding that last statement, how many of the people who agree with it, also think that mankind should put the environment before the economy. if recent news is to be believed then we have reached a tipping point where mankind has placed more C02 into the atmosphere than the Earth can cleanse, in other words we have irreversibly buggered up the environment to the point where it is going to start to affect us big time as the polar caps melt and the sea rises, etc. But any mention of a wind turbine and everyone is up in arms.
    If you think that the economy is more important than the environment, then trying counting your money while holding your breath.

    The wild life trust are the least of our problems believe me

    • Fre May 23, 2013 at 8:54 am

      I think we’d all agree with that but this thread is about the WLT.
      A lot of the land on Scilly has been used and disused over the years some fields are neolithic some submerged under the sea, at one time in our history the land had been divided and sub divided so many times that families had their children sent off into service and abroad to alleviate the situation here, and so the land was left to go wild and then intensively worked all in a short ish space of time,kelp making turned the Islands barren as fuel was in short supply and turf was used as fuel, and this is what has carved out the landscape of Scilly, before the WLT (sorry! I didn’t explain that well but hopefully you’ll get what I mean!) they say that the reason we have so much archaeology here is because of the lack of agriculture or mans interference on the landscape but in recent years the WLT have changed all that and today is the result of their work.
      the end!

    • Kev Wright May 23, 2013 at 9:17 am

      I’m not necessarily talking “over the ages” either. Much of this is very recent. Some of it I can remember, some of I’ve heard about from my Grandad and other farmers of his generation (one of whom is still working and regularly used to graze his cattle on the down at Mount Todden which the trust cleared). I also have pictorial evidence and written evidence.

      Of course this was without 4x4s and electric fences. Why do you think there’s a big granite cattle grid by the gate at the end of Kind Edward’s Road? And another on the path from Peninnis to Porthcressa? They didn’t appear by accident, they were to keep the animals grazing on the headland where they were meant to be. This also explains the big water tank near the gate. Apparently giving them sea water to drink has a similar effect to filling a petrol engine with diesel.

      Gorse would also have been cut for important winter fuel. Although not desecrated to the extent it has been. I think the trust have been a bit brutal in what they’ve done and it is more than what went before. But this land was used – it was “farmed” rather than “managed” maybe the best way to put it.

      • Rob May 23, 2013 at 5:47 pm

        I well remember the area’s that you refer to being grazed, just a couple of steers tops but more sheep and only in particularly dry summers, I’m aware of the cattle grids and the reason that they are there, they didn’t do this for wildlife, they did nothing for wildlife most wildlife would have been shot and eaten, the working classes where more interested in feeding their families. and yet we hark back to the good old days when wildlife was abundant not because of any estate management but as a result of everyday life.

        • Kev Wright May 24, 2013 at 12:49 pm

          Do you think that now that “everyday life” has changed and everything with a pulse isn’t being shot and eaten and that areas aren’t (or weren’t) even being lightly grazed then things might need some sort of a helping hand? I’m not suggesting what is being done is right or wrong, merely that – as you point out – this everyday life that kept the wildlife in a healthy state doesn’t exist anymore. I’m not criticising what you’ve said, just wondering what your opinion might be on that aspect?

          • Rob May 24, 2013 at 1:07 pm

            Oh! thanks! Well my opinion on that aspect is that we need to keep the beaches clean and maintain the foot paths,

  4. Fre May 22, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    Why did so few people in authority take Dave Badcocks petition seriously is it because he’s considered a common worker, less important than a white collar worker? if he worked in an office in London would that have made a difference, maybe if he carried a clipboard people would sit up and take notice and what of all the people that signed that petition? do they not have a voice? Bill Oddy a tv comedian, they took him seriously, David Bellamy, another odd tv personality, he was also taken seriously, but the ordinary people that live and work here, their opinions seem to be of little worth and now they want their support, well let them go and ask Bill Oddy and David Bellamy to support them.

  5. Kev Wright May 22, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    But years ago much of this land that people think was wild was actually farmed. For example most of the land cleared near Watermill, Pelistry, Mount Todden, much more of the Garrison – even Toll’s Island had cattle on it. You can still see many of the field boundaries. I’m not picking sides here – but that millennia where it was just left rough is, I’m afraid to say, a total fallacy.

    I agree that if there is a problem/decline in wildlife then it’s the trust’s responsibility to look after this.

    • Todd Stevens May 23, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      The Trust have been looking after it- remember all the burning they did- well that must have had a massive effect of the biodiversity- I mean what scilly bee or shrew wants to get scorched to death? I note the burning has stopped- so was it a mistake in the first place? How many more mistakes will they be allowed to make before its discovered that it is they who are the problem here?

  6. ritchie May 22, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    The WLT are not thought of highly in these Islands. To suggest that if it was not for organisations like them we would all be doomed is pure job justification and job creation – simply like a lot of the rest of this countrys QUANGO’s a total waste of money. Where is the proof – hard proof that if they were not here wildlife would be worse off. This county is on the bones of its behind and the first thing to go should Natural England – that money would be better spent on Health care and education – Scilly will manage itself as a natural wilderness. Agreed there are some areas that need management – bracken and gorse dare I say it to reduce the monoculture ( sorry ), but they do not need decimating, land management happened well before they arrived. How many jobs how many trucks how much fuel how many unecesary grazing animals along with with all the unsightly fencing, at what cost ? No I am sorry I will never be convinced they are a specific requirement on these Islands for the benefit of wildlife, and if you want a good example of land management take a long hard look at Tresco where they do not operate. Remember this one thing – where man interfears he changes things – for ever, the evidense is all around us on these Islands !

    • Nick Jenkins May 22, 2013 at 10:05 pm

      If they want to help breeding terns cull the black backed gulls – but no the rspb will never cull because they say it is a natural balance, but then they are prepared to spend hundreds of thousands to cull rats. Can anyone follow their logic ? But don’t expect them to listen unless you are a paid consultant – all jobs for the boys or girls !

      As Ritchie says, all QUANGOS should be closed down

      • Todd Stevens May 23, 2013 at 12:52 pm

        They have already ruined the bird population on Samson by allowing the gulls to multiply. Will they never learn from past mistakes??

  7. Todd Stevens May 22, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Biodiversity was fine before they came along to mess with the equilibrium. Saying there are problems merely justifies existence. Support? forget it!

  8. darryl Fenton May 22, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    I agree with Ralph ,I return to Scilly every year without fail and I have noticed a huge change and its NOT for the better either ,the Islands have managed themselves for Millenia I prefer wild ,untainted Scilly not this awful man managed nicely manicured WLT version of Scilly ,
    Swathes of orange posts with lurid colours of electrified wire on Penninis ,cow pats everywhere,4/4.toyota Trucks rumbling around ,this is not the Scilly I know and love and I know many of the TRUE inhabitants of Scilly hate it too.
    QUANGO’s like the WLT only exist to leach money from the State to enjoy the chance of making up non jobs ,they care not a jot about the feelings of others they just love the opportunity to experiment with our money on stupid pointless and wreckless schemes.

  9. Ralph May 22, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    considering the amount of time that the Wildlife trust has been involved in the stewardship of the Islands, could it not be their involvement that is causing the situation, after all it was fine until they got here.