Newsletter January-March 2023 

Hello again! I’ve been more reflective than normal at this time of year, taking stock of what we achieved together last year and what lies ahead …

Firstly, on the reflection side: the final data for 2022 shows that we sallied forth on 65 practical work sessions, delivering 2,107 hours of work. Our beach cleans delivered another 8 sessions and 156 hours work. Wow – I think we deserved our Christmas break!

We also had 8 sessions with local schools, lots of guided walks looking at wildlife, and got the art club and monitoring group off to a great start.

Altogether sadder to reflect on, of course, was unexpectedly losing two fabulous and proactive trustees and friends John Bennett and John Pollard. Both were involved in the Towans Partnership and latterly Friends of the Towans since the very start, and have helped to put us onto a strong footing.

I’m sure they would agree that the best way we can honour their memory and develop their legacy is by continuing to build up the charity and our work so that the Towans is even more strongly protected into the future. With this in mind, I’d like to share with you a really exciting thing for us to focus on this year.

You may know that there has been a campaign for some time, led in the main by local butterfly and Gwithian expert Sally Foster, to try to get parts of the Towans in the Gwithian area (eg Gwithian Green), designated as SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest), to help their protection as well as to help us broadcast the fact that the area is of national importance for nature.

I keep going on about us needing to raise the profile of the Towans as a distinctive area and landscape – like a National Park, for example – so that anyone visiting, as well as everyone already here, realises it is somewhere very special and therefore feels committed to help protect it.

The 50 or so people who came out on a foul night to our AGM in November were treated to an incredibly informative talk by Dr Colin French, who demonstrated that this area is in fact one of Cornwall’s richest wildlife locations – especially in terms of the number and range of rare and threatened species of flora and fauna.

Colin presented an amazing fact – that the Towans having 25% of Cornwall’s species on less than 1% of its surface is the same statistic as coral reefs are to global biodiversity – hence the title of his talk, ‘Hayle Towans: Cornwall’s Coral Reef.

Colin proposed that we should consider trying to seek designation of the Towans, along with Hayle Estuary, as a National Nature Reserve. There are only three others in Cornwall (The Lizard, Goss Moor and Golitha Falls), so it would make the Towans stick out from the crowd. I think all three of those words – national, nature and reserve have some power and clarity about them.

We have a way to go with this, but Natural England, the Government body that would be involved in progressing it, is sounding supportive. Two of our trustees – Peter Brinton and Andrew George – have already had some positive meetings with them. Our working title: ‘St Ives Bay National Nature Reserve: Cornwall’s Coral Reef’ has a certain something i think, so let’s see what happens!

Back to the here and now. It’s great to report that we’ve benefitted from an underspend in the Dynamic Dunescapes project, meaning that we’ll be able to maintain for another year the amount of time we can put towards Towans activities. In a nutshell, all the activities we’ve run this year – art,  monitoring and practical – will continue. For details, watch this space!

Martin Rule, Towans Ranger