Could beavers on Bodmin moor help reverse the decline in nature across Cornwall?

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Cornwall Wildlife Trust has launched its biggest-ever fundraising appeal to expand its nature reserve on Bodmin Moor which could see beavers released into the wild.

The charity is looking at the possibility of reintroducing beavers and large herbivores at Helman Tor in the future – increasing biodiversity while reducing the need for such intensive manual management of the landscape.

Until now beavers have been released in enclosed outside environments but the trust is considering seeking a permit to allow them more freedom near Helman Tor.

But the trust needs to fundraise £240,000 to buy Creney Farm - a 97 acre site which neighbours the 500 acres around Helman Tor - to make its plan a reality.

Cornwall Wildlife Trust wants to ensure at least 30% of Cornwall’s land, rivers and seas are managed well for wildlife by 2030. Credit: Ebb & Flow Media

Research by the charity in 2020 shows nature in Cornwall is in trouble.

Over the past 30 years, nearly half of terrestrial mammals and three-fifths of butterflies are found in fewer places.

They also found almost 50% of breeding birds, such as the buzzard and yellowhammer, have also declined.

The trust says buying this land is a 'once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ and it is vital it is able to 'be bold' in the ways it tries to reverse the numbers of wildlife in decline.

Head of conservation for Cornwall Wildlife Trust Cheryl Marriott said "everything we're doing already isn't enough".

"We need to make a better job of managing our existing nature reserves and we need to make them bigger. Otherwise, species decline is going to become species extinction," she added.

Creney Farm is already surrounded by three Cornwall Wildlife Trust nature reserves Credit: Cornwall Wildlife Trust

The wildlife charity has the majority of funds in place to purchase the farm but needs to raise £240,000 to expand what it describes as one of its most important wetlands near Bodmin.

It has have launched a public appeal, with a philanthropist and Cornwall Wildlife Trust supporter agreeing to match donations pound-for-pound up to £120,000.

Head of nature reserves at Cornwall Wildlife Trust Callum Deveney said: “This really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not only increase the size of our Helman Tor nature reserve, but to ‘fill in the gap’ so we can create more space for nature.

“Bigger, better and more joined-up nature reserves give wildlife an opportunity to thrive - and that’s exactly what we’re doing here. This land purchase and the ambitious work it will lead to will be transformative for nature in Cornwall, which is crucial given so many species are in decline.”

A portion of the money raised will be used to provide better access to the reserve with a new main entrance and enhanced visitor parking.