Cornwall Wildlife Trust is a registered charity established in 1962 by a group of highly committed and forward looking individuals to safeguard Cornwall’s habitats and associated wildlife. The Trust fulfils a unique role in that it is concerned solely with Cornwall and all aspects of conserving the county’s wildlife.
Our early years
The need during the years of the Second World War to grow food on marginal land led to a growing realisation that wildlife and the countryside were generally under threat. Naturalists’ Trusts were being set up in some counties to conserve their wildlife and sites of ecological value, under the auspices of what is now The Wildlife Trusts.
In 1962, the Cornwall Naturalists’ Trust was launched. The inaugural meeting chose a committee. Within a few months, we were leased our first nature reserve, Hawkes Wood, by Miss Sewart, who later generously gave the reserve to the Trust.
From its inception, the Trust was asked to give technical advice on land management and on planning matters. Our determination that all opinions must be scientifically based on valid data resulted in our advice being increasingly sought by local authorities and other statutory bodies.
In our first year we had 63 members, and sub-committees were formed to oversee our different activities. Membership continued to grow as the existence of the Trust and the appreciation of its efforts became more widely known. More demands were being made by local authorities and more reserves were being acquired.
Expanding our remit
In 1974, it was recognised that the Trust could no longer function adequately with only its indefatigable band of volunteers and a part time Administrative Officer was appointed. Five years later, the Trust appointed its first Conservation Officer and opened an office at the National Trust’s Trelissick Gardens. It became possible, with workers who were paid through the Manpower Services Commission, to extend the work being done by the Trust in all areas and the Trust moved into the next exciting phase of its life.
Although the name was changed in 1983 to the Cornwall Trust for Nature Conservation, the aims and constitution remained broadly the same: the recording and study of important ecological sites; the setting up of nature reserves; promotion of educational activities to these ends; and generally to encourage the conservation of Cornwall’s wildlife.
During the 1980s there was considerable development of the Trust's work, largely funded by government employment schemes. This came to an end in 1988 leaving the Trust with two full time staff: a Conservation Officer and a Secretary.
At the same time, thanks to a generous bequest from the late Dr George Allsop, the Trust moved to new headquarters at Allet. It was at this time that the Trust began to develop consultancy work to raise funds, enabling the employment of additional staff. With continued expansion, the post of Director was created in April 1991 and the name of Cornwall Wildlife Trust was adopted in March 1994 in line with a national initiative to unify Wildlife Trust names to facilitate marketing and publicity.
As concern for wildlife and the countryside has grown, Cornwall Wildlife Trust has gone from strength to strength. Now, with more than 17,000 members, over 1,000 active volunteers and over 150 Business Supporters the Trust can build on the secure base that it has established.
Over the past few decades, a great deal of change has taken place in Cornwall’s countryside. Happily, in conservation terms Cornwall remains one of the richest and most diverse counties in Britain and, through its work since 1962, Cornwall Wildlife Trust has worked, and will continue to work to ensure that this status is maintained.