Crowdy Marsh Project Highly Commended at Cornwall Sustainability Awards

We are delighted to announce that our partnership project with the South West Water peatland restoration team, Natural England and GRT Countryside Care was Highly Commended in the ‘Best Contribution to Environmental Growth 2017’ category at this year’s Cornwall Sustainability Awards. This award provided firm recognition of our partnership’s achievement in delivering peatland restoration at Crowdy Marsh earlier this year.

Crowdy Marsh, a South West Water reservoir site managed South West Lakes Trust, provides a vitally important refuge for a range of wildlife including birds, dragonflies, butterflies and a diverse assemblage of plants including Butterwort and Bogbean. The wet conditions, alongside the seasonal cattle grazing by the Davidstow Moor Commoners Association, provides the particular conditions favoured by many of the animals and plants found here. Crowdy also contains significant areas of peatland soils, which contribute to removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and therefore help to mitigate the effects of climate change.

In spite of Crowdy Marsh’s rich wildlife assemblage, the existence of drainage ditches were drying the sensitive peat soils and therefore negatively impacting upon the natural hydrology of the wider peatland. In order to restore a more natural hydrology and rewet the peat soils favourable to the peatland, South West Water’s peatland restoration team and GRT Countryside Care used novel techniques such as the placing of timber and peat into the ditches.

This project has helped create more opportunities for wildlife to breed, find shelter and food. It may also have additional benefits such as reducing the erosion of peat and enable the continuation of peat formation and carbon storage.

Crowdy Marsh was designated as a Site of Special Conservation Interest in 1951 and latterly as a Special Area of Conservation in 2005 in recognition of its exceptional nature conservation and ecological value.

James Parkin, Natural Environment Officer for South West Lakes Trust, said “We are thrilled that this partnership project, that will enable a real boon for nature in Cornwall, has been recognised for a CSA award.”

Morag Angus, South West Water’s Exmoor Mires Partnership Manager who oversaw the work, said “Carrying out this peatland restoration has been an amazing opportunity. Not only does it help to preserve a habitat for future generations to enjoy, it also helps to improve the water stored on the site and the quality of the water entering into Crowdy Reservoir. The peatland habitat is also an archaeologically rich area and by keeping this area wetter we are helping to preserve that history whilst adding to the story.”

Clare Fitzgibbon from Natural England said “The careful way in which the ditch blocking work has been carried out by the restoration team has been key to the success of this project, on such a sensitive site. This work will help to provide excellent habitat for a wide range of wildlife in the mire.”

Walking is welcomed year-round from the free South West Lakes Trust car park on the western side of the reservoir from grid reference (SX 13887 83338). For the purposes of protecting ground nesting birds from disturbance, we kindly request that you do not access Crowdy Marsh SSSI (on the eastern side of the reservoir) between March and July. Thank you for your understanding.

Successful businesses in the Cornwall Awards will be fast tracked into matching categories in the South West Tourism Excellence Awards in February 2018 and possibly invited to represent Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in the 2018 National VisitEngland Awards.

For more information about the project please contact James Parkin via email jparkin@swlakestrust.org.uk or call 01566 771930.

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