Wildlife and Nature
Long before mining, Cornwall was covered in temperate rain forest. A famous and historic mining area, Great Wheal Vor, is now an example of how a landscape defaced and polluted by industry can slowly begin to recover.
Destruction of existing habitats by exploration and by future mining work could take decades to repair.
Woodland that has taken a hundred years to take root and thrive is threatened.
Noise and disruption caused by an increase in heavy goods vehicles would shatter a much sought-after and cherished peace.
Tourism micro-businesses such as campsites are beginning to invest and provide employment in this relatively uncelebrated district of Cornwall which is now a World Heritage Site and provides a quiet retreat from the bustle of our coastal towns. The proposals of Cornish Tin threaten this recovery.
Local people and holiday-makers use the area for exercise and connecting with the natural environment, taking advantage of the many off-the-beaten track footpaths and bridleways that criss-cross the area
In a world where 200 species a day go extinct and climate change threatens our children’s future, the environments in the valleys of this part of Cornwall show how nature and communities can adapt, given time, to a post-industrial landscape. This slow regeneration provides calm in a troubled world.
Carnmeal Downs is an area of heathland where Heath Milkwort, Lousewort and Southern Marsh-orchid grow among the heathers. European Gorse grows here in abundance - its yellow flowers exude a coconut fragrance in the warmth of the sun. In summer you might be lucky enough to gather wild strawberries. (Breage Circular Walk)
Today the area supports a variety of wildlife habitats that attract Badgers, Foxes, Rabbits, Weasels, Stoats and Grey Squirrels. Cornish Black Honeybees flourish on the variety of flowers and brambles which have sprung up everywhere. Heathers, Gorse and Ivy provide them with forage deep into winter.
Old shafts are ideal roosting places for bats and several varieties are found here including the Natterer, Greater Horseshoe and the Lesser Horseshoe. These little creatures are amongst our most protected animals because of recent decreases in their numbers.
Many birds breed in the area. The hedgerows and copses are particularly suited to woodland species such as Jays, Nuthatches and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, along with the elusive and rarely seen Sparrowhawk. In spring the wild areas are perfect for songbirds, with Wrens, Bullfinches, Goldfinches and Chiffchaffs nesting in the abundant undergrowth, and on Carnmeal Downs you hear Cuckoos. Buzzards and Ravens are an everyday sight in the skies, and a flock of Canada Geese regularly passes over. In winter Redwings and Fieldfares are visitors from northern climes, and Starlings are seen in small murmurations. Barn Owls, Little Owls and Tawny Owls are heard and seen at dusk. They all breed here undisturbed in the peace of Wheal Vor.
“Without biodiversity, there is no future for humanity”
Prof David Macdonald, Oxford University.
As part of its climate strategy, Cornwall Council is establishing many excellent initiatives such as a Forest for Cornwall, Wildlife Corridors and Nature Recovery Networks, where birds, insects and small mammals can travel freely under a continuous green cover to find breeding mates and food. But the Council’s contradictory support for the idea of reviving extractive mining in Cornwall highlights the blindness of our times.
The idea that Cornwall’s economy can once again be based on tin-mining, in a world where all future industrial growth accelerates destruction of the biosphere, is dangerous. Similarly, the idea that we can cut carbon through building more and bigger fossil-fuel-energy-consuming machines, whatever their climate-smart credentials, is self-defeating.
“What we do in the next three to four years will determine the future of humanity”.
Prof. Sir David King
Special Representative for Climate Change to
the UK Government, 2013 - 2017.