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The Mid-Cornwall Moors LIFE Project is a partnership project that aims to improve key habitats in central Cornwall. The key focus for this work is the marsh fritillary. Cornwall represents a stronghold for this butterfly, at both national and European levels. Through the restoration of key habitats such as moor and wet and dry heaths, the Project will also improve the circumstances for other important plant and animal species.

The project is particularly exciting because it involves the re-aligning of a trunk road, the A30, from its historic location which bisects Goss Moor National Nature Reserve, the largest of the project sites. In 2007 the trunk road was re-aligned on to a route to the north of Goss Moor, providing a rare opportunity to make physical and ecological reconnections which will benefit both wildlife and people.

The work will also assist in the economic regeneration of an area that has often been overlooked, through the re-introduction of viable grazing, and through improved access to the moors. The money that will be spent downgrading the old A30, and making it suitable for walkers, cyclists and horses, is an integral part of the project's funding.

Actions and targets

The main objectives of the project are about the marsh fritillary. The project aims to:

  • Increase the area of suitable marsh fritillary breeding habitat across all project sites, and increase the quality of that habitat;
  • Improve the connections between breeding patches on the sites where marsh fritillaries already occur.

Making connections between the places marsh fritillaries breed is particularly important, because the insects thrives as a collection of colonies called a 'metapopulation', and the adults need to be able to fly between different sites.

Actions

  • Establish and manage an extensive grazing regime.
  • Remove willow and gorse scrub, use burning management, and control bracken.
  • Through different events and workshops, involve the local people and establish a sustainable future for the management of the mid-Cornwall moors.
  • Monitor the ecology of the sites following management work, and produce management plans.
  • Purchase some extra land.
  • Improve public access to sites.
  • Improve the habitat around the old A30.
  • Produce and disseminate information about the project through different media.

Targets

  • 1 water level management plan in place
  • 1 hydrological study complete
  • 24 hectares of land purchased at Goss Moor
  • 90 hectares of previously inaccessible cSAC habitat improved
  • 4 additional entrances onto the NNR
  • 36.5 hectares of willow scrub removed
  • 26 hectares of gorse scrub removed
  • 17.5 hectares of bracken removed
  • 16.8 kilometres of fencing installed
  • 25 hectares of dry heath and molinia grassland burnt each year
  • 3.3 kilometres of new or improved access tracks
  • 4 public conservation days held
  • 5 information display boards installed
  • 2 grazier workshops held
  • 4 marsh fritillary study days held