Delivering biodiversity gains in Nansleden, Cornwall

Delivering biodiversity gains in Nansleden, Cornwall

29th August 2023

Significant gains in biodiversity were reported at Pras Trewolek, the wildflower meadows created as part of the Duchy’s Nansledan community in Cornwall.

Transformed into an environmental asset where the community can reconnect with the natural world, Pras Trewolek promotes biodiversity, health and wellbeing and is home to kilometres of pathways, trees, viewing platforms and 50 acres of rewilded meadows grazed by native breeds of cattle. By working closely with the tenant farmer and estate team on projects to restore hedgerows and introduce wildlife attracting measures, both flora and habitat is recovering and impressive wins have been noted. At Nansledan, the Green Infrastructure Strategy is expected to deliver an overall increase in habitat “units” of around 24% and an increase in hedgerow “units” of around 48% far exceeding the Government’s 10% requirements for Biodiversity Net Gain in development.

Ben Kite, MD and lead ecologist at Ecological Planning and Research Ltd stated, “The area is now species rich and astonishingly the nationally rare plant Whorled Caraway is found to be widespread and flowering, whilst near threatened species including Ragged Robin and Lesser Spearwort have been found alongside other plants of old.”. Rather excitedly Ben went on to add that “what is believed to be a hybrid of a Rose that is very rare in Cornwall, Harsh Downy-Rose, has been identified and plans are in motion to collect cuttings and seed and to propagate so that they can be incorporated into the planting palette for the neighbouring Nansledan development.”

The nationally rare plant Whorled Caraway in flower at Pras Trewolek
Harsh Downy-Rose at Pras Trewolek. The species is rare in Cornwall

A further positive story can be told of bird fauna as numbers and species continue to increase. Multiple flocks of perhaps 300 Goldfinch were seen, Barn Owls and significant numbers of Swallow, some nesting in the newly created wildlife hide were sighted. Red listed birds of conservation concern, House Martins were found hawking insects and breeding Yellowhammer are also believed to have increased, whilst a pair of Stonechat were found to be using one of the newly created hedgerows and a hunting Kestrel was also observed.

Swallow nest in the newly created wildlife hide

The improved vegetation at Pras Trewolek has also attracted large numbers of butterflies and moths. Meadow Brown butterflies and 6 Spot Burnet Moths were visible during the survey and a growing list including Painted Lady, Peacock, Speckled Wood, Common Blue, Small Tortoiseshell and Small Skipper have also been recorded. Evidence of bats was also found at the entrance to the newly created wildlife tower showing that bats have likely taken residence and are occupying it as a roost.

Gatekeeper Butterfly at Pras Trewolek
Spot Burnet Moth on Common Knapweed
New home to bats – The Wildlife Tower at Pras Trewolek

Upon hearing news from the latest ecology reports Ben Murphy, Estates Director for the Duchy of Cornwall said “It is wonderful to see the Duchy of Cornwall’s vision to ensure sustainable stewardship for communities, enterprise and nature, being delivered through the great work of colleagues and the community of Nansledan. We are working hard to extend these initiatives across the wider estate and we hope to the community of South Estate Faversham in due course”.