Tor to Shore

by Emily Sayer in United Kingdom

Tor to Shore

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Nature resoration of the Helman Tor nature reserve in Cornwall

by Emily Sayer in United Kingdom

This organisation received £100,000 of funding from the Government's Green Recovery Challenge Fund in April 2021.

The fund was developed by Defra and its Arm's-Length Bodies. It was delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England, the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission. The Green Recovery Challenge Fund was supported using public funds and delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.

Helman Tor nature reserve is one of the most important wildlife sites in the country, with much of the site holding Site of Special Scientific Interest and/or Special Area of Conservation status.  The vibrant patchwork of wetland, woodland, species-rich grassland and heathland habitats, provide much-needed havens for some of the UK’s rarest wildlife, including dormice, willow tits, and marsh fritillary butterflies – each at risk of extinction. Yet maintaining this carefully balanced ecosystem requires significant human intervention (at great expense), as the natural processes needed for nature to manage itself have been eliminated by centuries of human activity.

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The vibrant network created through this project will contain a hub for nature on land at Helman Tor, where the reintroduction of keystone species, such as beavers (which will be among the first released into the wild with licences), and large herbivores (as close as possible to ancient native breeds), will help manage the reserve naturally, creating conditions for rare wildlife to thrive. Habitat work by beavers will slow water flow (increasing flood resilience in Par and St Blazey – the most at-risk areas for flooding in Cornwall) and improve water quality.

This hub will be surrounded by smaller, but vital, nature-rich pockets of land in the catchment, all connected by wildlife corridors, created through tailored advice and support to local farmers, who increase their sustainable agricultural practices. This work will also improve the water quality in Par River, benefiting rare aquatic species, as it flows into St Austell Bay, where fishers, residents, businesses, and local decision makers come together to create a Voluntary Marine Nature Reserve, and reduce damaging practices in the wider bay. This will help fish stocks recover and protect vital blue carbon habitats, like seagrass and maerl.

Underpinning this Nature Recovery Network? Communities. Communities inspired and mobilised to take action for nature - volunteering, gaining skills, recording wildlife, connecting with the environment, and increasing positive behaviours. Among these will be some of the UK’s most disadvantaged communities, who may never have had the opportunity to meaningfully connect with nature before. This project will provide experiences to change that, benefiting physical health, mental wellbeing, and attitudes towards wildlife, they will also have access to a new Helman Tor visitor centre and community space, where schools, community groups and the public spend time and learn about nature on land and at sea.

The result will be a thriving land and seascape, where wildlife once again has a home and in which communities take pride. From this, we will be able to share learnings, which can be applied to holistic nature recovery projects across the UK – which are vital if we’re to avert a climate and ecological crisis.

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