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Legacy of G7 in Cornwall sees nature recovery projects underway

Cornwall is reaping the benefits of the 2021 G7 environment summit with more than 40 projects supporting nature recovery underway.

  • £1.6m spent in first two years
  • Chief Executive of Natural England visiting some projects today (Wednesday 13 September 2023)

In 2021 the eyes of the world were on Carbis Bay in Cornwall as world leaders gathered for the G7 environment summit. Now, two years on, the county is reaping the benefits with more than 40 projects supporting nature recovery on land and at sea in mid-Cornwall.

The G7 Legacy Project for Nature Recovery is an ambitious five-year plan based in mid-Cornwall and run in partnership with Natural England and Cornwall Wildlife Trust. In its first two years, £1.6m has gone into 42 projects, not only improving the prospects for nature in the area, but also creating sustainable jobs. The project has supported new green apprenticeships, worked with businesses to promote sustainable tourism and encouraged hundreds of people to volunteer in their local communities and to get out and about in the countryside.

The projects are as wide-ranging as work to reconnect and restore habitats and ecosystems, providing new access opportunities to the countryside, conserving rare species, through to improving water quality and capturing carbon. The programme’s aim is to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, mitigate and adapt to climate change and improve health and wellbeing of local communities through increased access to nature. .

The first two years of the project has seen over 1,000 additional hectares of private and public land managed for nature restoration, 18 metres of Cornish hedge restored, research done on reducing seabird bycatch numbers through new prevention measures, a reduction in flooding with river restoration and links to surrounding wet woodland created, improved management of wildlife habitats on farms and blue carbon reports on seagrass in St Austell Bay. For people who want to experience more of the area, there has been 10km of trail improvement and nearly 1,700 people have been involved in 370 volunteering and engagement events.

Among the projects are:

  • G7 project leveraged £750K of cabinet funding that matched public donations allowing Cornwall Wildlife Trust to acquire the 97acre Creney Farm in Mid- Cornwall. This land brings the CWT Mid-Cornwall reserve to 735 acres (with Helman Tor, Redmor and Breney Common) which will become an exemplar for nature restoration and regenerative farming.

  • 25 farms were advised for nature recovery outcomes through whole farm plans. Conversations with the landowners are ongoing with a grant pot available and volunteers on hand to support potential countryside stewardship applications and environmental improvement including pollination, reduction of run off, herbal lays and sustainable grazing.

  • At Goss Moor National Nature Reserve work included improvement of the multi-use trail, resilience work concentrating on the Marsh Fritillary butterfly and Willow Tit and inclusion of volunteer and social prescribed activities.

  • G7 has garnered a collaborative partnership with one of the largest landowners in the Mid Cornwall area. Imerys has a long-term vision to restore and create large swathes of industrial land including reducing run off, tree planting, grassland creation and scrub clearance. This also includes over 10km of new public pathways improving access to nature for nearby villages.

  • Marine nature recovery is an important element of G7 – projects include a collaborative partnership led by the RSPB to research reduction in bird bycatch within the St Austell Bay designated area through the use of marker buoys.

  • The Blue Carbon report undertook baseline surveys to assess the extent and condition of marine habitats in St Austell Bay. The largest seagrass bed in the UK at 359ha was discovered leading to ongoing research at a national level.

Marian Spain, Chief Executive of Natural England, is today visiting some of the projects to see the work that is going on for herself. She said: “Cornwall is renowned for its beautiful and varied landscape, home to a rich diversity of wildlife, including rare species like the red-billed chough, which form part of the county’s identity. Its vibrant natural heritage is one of the reasons that millions of people choose to visit this wonderful part of England every year.

“But, over the last 50 years, Cornwall, like the rest of the UK, has suffered depletion of species both on land and at sea. This project, a legacy of the G7 summit hosted in Carbis Bay, aims to work with local communities to help stem the loss by delivering real improvements for wildlife across a swathe of mid Cornwall and in St Austell bay. It will do this by reconnecting habitats and ecosystems, conserving and even reintroducing rare species, while improving water quality and capturing carbon. The end result will be a huge boost for the environment, wildlife and all those who live in Cornwall or who love to visit to experience this stunning and dramatic county.

“The benefits of the projects are not just for nature, though. They have led to new apprenticeship jobs, we’re working with the tourism sector looking at the possibility of sustainable tourism opportunities and many local people have taken up the chance to learn new skills and meet new people by volunteering on the projects.”

The project is one of 12 nature recovery projects across England which will help support the development of a nature recovery network – a national network of nature-rich places which the government has committed to creating in its 25-year environmental improvement plan. The lessons from each of these will help develop a repository of skills and knowledge to build a lasting legacy for nature and people.

In addition to the G7 and 11 other Nature Recovery Projects, there are numerous projects around the country, led by both public and private sector partners, helping to establish and expand the national nature recovery network, helping us deal with three of the biggest challenges we face: biodiversity loss, climate change and wellbeing.

Further information

Other projects completed in year two:

  • Grass root level nature recovery occurred throughout the G7 project. Historic building renovation and pond creation occurred with the Limes Project in Grampound.

  • Friends of Par Beach partnered with G7 to improve access for all along the dunes by reducing scrub invasion and providing volunteer opportunities and interpretation on the wildlife walk.

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