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Protected status confirmed for West Cornwall

West Penwith Moors and Downs

West Penwith Moors and Downs in Cornwall have been confirmed as a site of special scientific interest (SSSI).

The confirmation will mean that 3,044 hectares of some of the country’s wildest and most dramatic nature rich habitat is now protected.

Penwith Moors has a long history of agriculture and livestock grazing, with many of the 4,000-year-old field systems still used for their original purpose.

Natural England chair Tony Juniper said: “The designation of West Penwith Moors and Downs as a SSSI reflects how wildlife has flourished under a combination of generations of low-intensity farming activity and the naturally occurring habitats and species.

“We want to work in partnership with farmers to support them in delivering the best possible management to sustain nature in the SSSI and in the surrounding countryside alongside running their farm business.”

The area was designated for SSSI status due to its lowland heathland, fens and dry acid grassland, lichens, wetland valley mires, a breeding population of Dartford warbler, invertebrates including the rare Perkin’s mining bee and tormentil nomad bee, and a number of vascular plants, such as coral necklace, a declining plant which grows along wet tracks.

The new SSSI will also contribute to government statutory targets and international commitments to halt biodiversity decline by 2030 and to meet the goal of the 25-year Environment Improvement Plan, to be the first generation to leave the natural world in a better state than we found it.

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