Location: Isles of Scilly
Subject: Conservation & Education
Related ACE Cultural Tours: Isles of Scilly
To maintain a balance in the fauna & flora of the Isle of Scilly.
With the outbreak of a new variant of CJD many abattoirs in the UK were closed down due to the more stringent hygiene regulations being enforced. Whilst recognisably a beneficial change overall, given the somewhat dubious situation of many slaughter houses, the shift left the Isles of Scilly abattoir & vet-less, this change causing a dramatically reduced animal population on the island. With fewer animals around, little grazing occurred and natural changes in human activities, ie. a reducing need for firewood, led to rapidly changing vegetative environments. The lasting effects of this change have recently been recognised and it was noted that ecosystems on the island were suffering as certain species began to dominate. Gorse and bramble scrub flourished, taking over other wild plant’s territories, leaving very little diversity. With no larger grazing animals to maintain the balance the scrubland ran riot posing a serious fire-risk and creating a less attractive landscape. Luckily the Isles of Scilly has a very active wildlife trust who initiated a regeneration program called the Waves of Heath Project which introduced a system of managing the gorse as well as grazing livestock, all in sympathy with the modern daily life of the Scilly population. There were many considerations that had to be made when developing this project, especially since the changes that had previously occurred were reflective of on the negligence of past life styles on the island. Although the changes were natural according to changing lifestyles, for variety to exist a program of maintenance needs to be enforced. For this to occur viably, education of the current population of the Island and its tourists had be integral to the project. With the possibility of an abattoir being reintroduced, and all the Trust’s hard work, the ecosystem is now back on the route to balance. The Trust has produced a comprehensive leaflet about all their projects explaining how it all works and how locals and visitors can help maintain the once again beautiful environment.
Project & ACE
An ACE Study Tour group visited the Island in spring 2008 and Roland Randal, the course director, and the group were suitably impressed by the results of the program encouraging a contribution from the ACE Foundation to be sent their way. Well done Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust.
Despite some controversy the grazing program on the Isles of Scilly has been highly successful receiving praise from English Heritage as well as other heritage and conservation officials. Red Ruby cattle are being moved around various sites on the Island and in some cases their grazing has uncovered objects of archaeological significance that have previously been hidden by dense vegetation. This illustrates that as well as promoting diversity in plant species, the program is also diversifying other attributes of the island.
Photograph copyright Derrick Thurley