Habitat rarer than a tropical rainforest could be restored in Cornwall

Bartinney nature reserve on Cornwall’s Penwith peninsula. Credit: Ben Watkins

Cornwall Wildlife Trust has launched an appeal to buy land to restore a habitat that's rarer than tropical rainforests.

The Trust is looking to buy 53 acres of land neighbouring its existing Bartinney nature reserve on Cornwall’s Penwith peninsula.

If successful, it would mean the restoration of lowland heathland - one of the world’s most threatened habitats.

It would also provide a sanctuary for the Tormentil nomad bee, which is one of the UK’s rarest bees.

Head of Nature Reserves at Cornwall Wildlife Trust Callum Deveney said: “Bartinney is a special place. The colours of the heathers and gorse can be breath-taking, and on a clear day you see the Isles of Scilly.

"The opportunity to increase its size and restore lowland heathland is incredibly exciting! In the UK, this globally rare habitat is sadly restricted to parts of Cornwall and a few other locations.

"Adding this land would be a huge win for wildlife, including pollinators and butterflies.”

Lowland heathland is characterised by dwarf shrubs and gorses in the summer when the purples and blues of heathers are in full bloom.

The purples and blues of heathers in full bloom in Bartinney in the summer. Credit: Jan Dinsdale

But it's now one of the world’s scarcest habitats - even rarer than tropical rainforests. The UK has lost more than 85% of its lowland heathland in the past 200 years alone.

The land’s purchase will play a role in helping Cornwall meet the international target of ensuring 30% of land, rivers and seas are managed for nature by 2030 to tackle the ecological and environmental crises.

The Trust has secured a pledge of £85,000 from a major funder but is now hoping the public will help match this amount with an additional £85,000 to secure the land.

Callum continued: “People in Cornwall seem to really appreciate the beautiful wild landscapes and wildlife we have here.

"We were so grateful to the public for getting behind our appeal to purchase Creney Farm in mid-Cornwall last year, and we hope they will do the same again.

"The scale of the crisis facing nature is enormous, so protecting and restoring rare habitats is vital if we’re to avoid catastrophe.”

To support the appeal, visit www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org. uk