The cliff-tops, locally known as Glebe Cliffs, at Tintagel have been designated as a ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest by English Nature because of their importance in terms of their botanical and geological features.
This area of theNorth Cornwallcoast has also been designated a ‘Special Area of Conservation’ and needs to be maintained by the traditional and well practised method of animal grazing. Grazing will reduce aggressive course grasses and encroachment of scrub, thereby allowing wild flowers to thrive.
Some flowers here are nationally scarce, such as hairy birds-foot trefoil, wild chives and autumn squill. One insect, the brown carder bee, is on theUK’s Biodiversity Action Plan’s priority list. These species, amongst others, are under threat from lack of grazing management.
The Trust’s new tenant, along with the governments statutory conservation body Natural England, will be starting a 10 year Higher Level Stewardship Scheme (HLS) here this year which will provide a funding package that supports the farmer in ensuring that this site is managed in an environmentally sensitive way. Rare breed sheep and cattle will be used for part of the autumn and winter months only to graze the cliff land and pasture. This will allow an undisturbed summer period for ground nesting birds like the skylark, and for the flowering of the maritime grassland species. The emphasis will be firmly on sensitive, low key management for nature conservation rather than farming the land for any commercial return.
Mike Simmonds, the Trust’s Head Ranger for the area says: ‘We are thrilled that Natural England has been able to offer an HLS Scheme that will support this work for the next 10 years. Schemes have become increasingly difficult to attract in the current financial climate, so this commitment is an indication of the importance of the site’
He added: ‘We recognise fully that introducing new management may have impacts on local users, dog walkers and visitors as well as the landscape. As ever the Trust has to try and balance all these things against the value of nature conservation. The fencing required to confine grazing to specific areas of the site has been carefully thought about. Obviously the safety and welfare of the grazing animals is important, but, crucially it is also important to minimise the visual impact on the landscape and continue to allow free public access as far as possible. It will be essential that some control over dogs is observed during periods when there are grazing animals on site’ he added Mike.
The site works should commence in the early part of summer, with the first grazing period over the winter of 2012 – 13.
The Trust is holding an ‘open day’ on Friday 27th April from 10 am to share our and plans with the Parish and any interested parties. A marquee and display will be set up at Glebe Cliff main car park, near the church, where several Trust representatives will be on hand all day to answer any queries and concerns.