Penwith Moors set to receive national SSSI status

A four-month period of consultation will soon open, in which farmers can comment on, or object to, the notification
A four-month period of consultation will soon open, in which farmers can comment on, or object to, the notification

Penwith Moors, one of the UK's largest areas of lowland heath with a long history of agriculture and livestock grazing, is set to receive national protection.

The historic moorland landscape, located in west Cornwall, has today (7 October) been notified as a Site of Special and Scientific Interest (SSSI) in recognition of its national importance for wildlife.

Natural England says the SSSI will "protect an ancient landscape shaped over centuries through the careful stewardship of generations of land managers".

The area has a long history of livestock farming, with many of the 4,000 year old field systems still used for their original purpose.

Natural England says it recognises these 'deep traditions' and will continue to work in partnership with farmers to promote sustainable farming and nature recovery.

The designation will recognise the area's special features of 59 parcels of semi-natural habitat and farmland spanning over 3,100 hectares, stretching from St Just to St Ives.

The site is home to rare and endangered plants, such as the coral-necklace, pale dog-violet, pillwort and Cornish moneywort.

Dating back to prehistoric times, Penwith Moors has a greater concentration of archaeological and heritage sites than any other comparable area in Western Europe.

Wesley Smyth, area manager at Natural England, said the SSSI designation would help farming and nature 'continue to co-exist'.

"We will continue to support farmers and the local people who live, work and visit the Penwith Moors to drive nature recovery and support sustainable uses for this site.”

The decision to notify this area as an SSSI follows assessments by Natural England of its habitats and species, which highlighted the importance of the moors for wildlife.

The designation will support landscape scale conservation, to restore habitats in unfavourable condition where wildlife is declining.

The protections created by the designation will prevent damaging activities from taking place, and also promote sustainable land management practices.

It means farmers and other land managers in the area must apply to Natural England for consent to carry out certain activities on the land.

Following the notification, a four-month period of consultation will soon open during which farmers and land managers can comment on, or object to, the notification.

The SSSI designation will then be confirmed, amended or withdrawn within nine months of the notification.