Can Cornwall's future be realised through building with nature and rewilding?

Can Cornwall's future be realised through building with nature and rewilding?

Head of Nature Reserve's Callum Deveney and Paul Jepson discuss rewilding

Conservation leaders and supporters of Cornwall Wildlife Trust gathered at the Trust’s Annual Discovery Day to debate Cornwall’s wilder future. The event placed conservation and environmental awareness at the heart of Cornwall’s future.

Stephen Warman, Chair of Cornwall Wildlife Trust, concluded the day: “The expertise and spirit in this room today have been truly inspiring.  Our work to protect our natural environment goes hand in hand both with meeting the climate change challenge and with reducing its impact on our natural systems.  We are delighted to have opened out our discussions to include inspiring a new generation of conservationists through providing volunteering opportunities, exploring options for Building with Nature - and by debating the concept of rewilding.” 


“A healthy environment underpins a healthy economy.  Today has been a great springboard for deepening and broadening the contribution we can make to both”.


A Wilder People panel with Cornwall Wildlife Trust staff who work with farmers, volunteers and students discussed: ‘How is the Trust inspiring more people to take action for wildlife and what more could we do?


Séan O’Hea, Deputy Head of Reserves for Cornwall Wildlife Trust said:  “farmers are seeing huge wildlife benefits along with economic benefits and this is key with our Wilder Beef project.”


David May, from Upstream Thinking for Cornwall Wildlife Trust said:  “it’s important we think global, and act local, keep on enthusing people and keep making small changes.”


Jenn Sandiford, Youth Engagement Officer for Your Shore Beach Rangers said: “it’s about building a rapport with young people, getting them in the water experiencing the amazing marine life, and making different opportunities available to them”.


Wilder Future’s presentations and panel focused on the innovations around building with nature and the role of rewilding as part of the answer to nature’s recovery in Cornwall.


Gemma Jerome, Director of Building with Nature, which supports the design and implementation of ‘green infrastructure’ said; “nature should be at the heart of building high quality developments, with wellbeing, water and wildlife the three key elements for development. It's fantastic to see the support in Cornwall today for nature-friendly planning.”  


Merlin Hanbury-Tenison, who runs Cabilla Farm in the heart of Poldark country, and is rewilding 400 acres on the edge of Bodmin Moor, said: “the benefits from simply being in woodland and the natural environment gives people the chance to recover from the excessive pace of corporate life. As we heal and revitalise nature, we heal ourselves.”


Paul Jepson, leading conservationist, geographer and rewilding expert who is on the supervisory board for Rewilding Europe said:To rewild we need six things: vision, land, buy-in, support, animals and money.  We need to protect the best, and restore the rest.”.  


Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Callum Deveney and Cheryl Marriot, Heads of Nature Reserves and Conservation, and Carolyn Cadman, Chief Executive, also took questions from the audience.


Presentations at Discovery Day included:


Wilder Cornwall: What has Cornwall Wildlife Trust achieved and what does the future hold? Carolyn Cadman, Chief Executive, Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Wilder Places: Making space for wildlife within built developments Gemma Jerome

Wilder People: panel discussion with Cornwall Wildlife Trust conservationists: how the Trust is inspiring more people to take action for wildlife and what more could we do?

Nature Reserves – working with farmers to graze nature reserves for local economy benefits and wilder beef

Marine conservation - Your Shore Beach Rangers - engaging young people

Upstream Thinking – working with weekly conservation volunteers

Wilder Future: Rewilding - is this the answer to nature's recovery in Cornwall? Paul Jepson

The event was hosted at Heartlands, a World Heritage Site Gateway set in the shadow of an iconic Cornish engine house. Heartlands is a visionary social enterprise project with a regional and national audience that goes out of its way to champion local innovation and environmental sustainability.