Dec/Jan/Feb 1997/8                    111
 

THE ISLES OF SCILLY ENVIRONMENTAL TRUST

For some time the Lower Moors have suffered from too little fresh water passing through the reedbeds.  This lack of f low has reduced the quantity of oxygen in the water resulting in fewer insects and subsequently fewer birds being attracted to the site.  The extraordinary weather pattern this year has also had an effect with long periods of very dry conditions, but this winter there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of rain and indeed, at the end of November, the moors were so flooded for a time, that the path became impassable.  The build up was partly due to a blockage in the exit pipe on Old Town Beach, but the combined result has achieved a flushing of the moors and hopefully more oxygen in the remaining water.

The Trust is continuing to manage the reedbeds of both moors, in order to protect them into the future.  Left untended, they would slowly dry up and disappear.  Areas of reeds will be cut on a rotational plan, with the cut material being either burnt or removed from the site.  The number of willows will be controlled as they also raise the ground level and dry the site.  The two moors are important habitat and attract a wide range of wildlife.  The bird hides allow easy viewing of the ponds and scrapes and while the best time to see the birds is early and late in the day, there are usually ducks and other waterfowl to be seen throughout the day.  Over the next few weeks, several of the bridges on Lower Moors will be remade and widened creating better access and allowing us to make better use of the Trust motor scythe.  One of the hides on Higher Moors is to have a ramp to replace the existing steps.

Scilly is becoming increasingly important for its over-wintering waders.  The beaches are proving good feeding sites for the birds and we are keen to see that they remain in excellent condition.  While we do not remove the seaweed strandline, there is no objection to people taking seaweed for their gardens.  Regular cleanups will hopefully ensure that plastic waste is kept to a minimum.  Counts and monitoring of the waders is undertaken and the information obtained is fed into national statistics.  With some species of birds it is possible that Scilly has between one and ten per cent of the United Kingdom populations, during the winter months.

The Trust has recently completed its first year as a member of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and the benefits are beginning to show.  There have been improvements to gates, fences and stiles.  Large areas of decaying gorse have been controlled and a number of archaeological sites have been cleared, so that they can be located once more.  Over the next few years, this process will be continued and it is hoped that there will be a dramatic improvement in the access to our open spaces and subsequent enjoyment of the beauty and rich natural flora that the islands can boast.  Grant Aid is being sought for an upgrading and rebuilding of several miles of coastal footpath.  At locations where there has been cliff and path erosion, new paths will be constructed.

We hope that 1998 will be a good year and that we won't be plagued with any further ship wrecks.  By the start of the new season our beaches and open areas will be in pristine condition, so that visitors to these islands will be able to enjoy the spectacular landscape to the full.

Andrew Gibson
 
 

 
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