Conservation on Scilly

Most of the land in Scilly is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall.  Some of it is rented out to tenant farmers but the untenanted land (over 60% of the landscape) is managed by the IOS Wildlife Trust who rent it for the token sum of 1 daffodil per year.

As well as being involved in the Seabird Recovery project, the trust keeps an eye on the various habitats,

creates nature trails,

tends the numerous ancient monuments

and looks after the footpaths.

The main islands are all circled by a coastal path and this does need regular inspection and maintenance due to the ever encroaching sea, which gradually undercuts the cliffs.

The shores on the outer edges of the islands are often battered by huge Atlantic waves.  Undercutting at the bottom of the cliff can cause the whole slope to slide down the hill, taking the path with it.

You can clearly see the line of the new path.  Look below it for traces of the old one.

There are 30 miles of footpaths on St Mary’s alone, and the IOS Wildlife Trust do a great job, ensuring that they are safe to explore.

Scilly Seabirds

The Scilly Isles are an AONB and contain a great diversity of habitats.

The coasts include sandy shores and rocky cliffs,

while inland there is heathland covered in heather and gorse,


and farmland with its hedges

and walls.

A great variety of habitats attracts a great variety of bird life, but you are never far from the sea and so it is the seabirds who really thrive here.

The islands are home to breeding populations of 14 species, but numbers have declined over the last 25 years, largely due to multiplication of an accidental introduction – the brown rat.

The islands are a globally important site for Manx shearwater and storm petrel.  Manx Shearwater have been breeding on St Agnes for decades, but as they nest in burrows, the eggs and chicks were always eaten by rats.  No chicks had been seen above ground on St Agnes in living memory…until September 2014.

The change in fortune for the Manx Shearwater is a result of the Seabird Recovery Project and this has basically involved the systematic removal of the brown rat.

Everyone is encouraged to be vigilant.

And it seems to be working.


Last week we looked at AONBs – Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – which are found across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  But what about Scotland?

Scotland has a similar designation – NSA – National Scenic Area.  Again, these are areas of exceptional scenery which are protected from inappropriate developments.  There are 40 NSAs in Scotland.  That’s about 13% of the total land area.

Cuillin Hills, Skye

NSAs in Scotland include mountain ranges, offshore islands and some of the more populated areas with picturesque scenery.

If you want to see where they all are then click here for a map.

Glen Coe

So many beautiful places…

I’m hoping to get to see a few more of them this summer.  Planning a wee Scotland series or two for the autumn.  Watch this space!


There are National Parks all over the world but the designation of AONB is a uniquely British phenomenon.  AONB is Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Lulworth Cove

These are areas of “outstanding landscape whose distinctive character and natural beauty are so precious that it is safeguarded in the national interest”.

Corfe Castle

And Britain has such a diversity of landscapes with ancient woodlands, hay meadows, downs and moors as well as attractive villages.  As a result nearly a fifth of total land area in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is designated an AONB.  (Scotland has no AONBs.  It has NSAs instead!  We’ll look at those next week.)

Lyme Regis

The AONBs are not National Parks due to their small size and lack of wildness, so there is no authority with overall planning control, but they are protected by law.  The aim is to balance use for agriculture and forestry, needs of the local communities and recreation, while at the same time conserving and improving the environment.

Stair Hole

My pictures are of Dorset AONB which covers almost half of that county.

Visit this link for a map showing the locations of all the AONBs.  Scroll down for further details on each.  I hope you find somewhere new to explore.

Conservation in Mill Glen

Both Mill Glen and Alva Glen are sites of industrial heritage. The structures within them tell the story of the past.

In order to see that story, people need to have safe access.

In Mill Glen considerable effort is being made to provide a safe route. Paths, steps and bridges have been constructed.

Areas of loose rock have been netted.

Or secured with cables.

This stops the rock from falling down and blocking the path or falling into the river and taking the path away too.

The stream is no longer being diverted to power a mill, so its energy is going into eroding and carrying away the bits of rock, slowly deepening the glen, as it was before the industry arrived.

If you are in the area, do take a walk up either Mill Glen, at Tillicoultry, or Alva Glen, at Alva. You will be rewarded with fine views.

If you have signed up for worksheets, I will be emailing you a review sheet for the topics that Blog About Britain has covered in this part of Scotland.