Safeguarding Lundy’s fragile nature for generations to come
A remote island off the Devon coast that has been transformed from farmland to a rich oasis of wildlife will be protected for another 50 years when a new lease between the National Trust and Landmark Trust is signed this autumn.
Lundy Island is now home to a rich array of more than 21,000 seabirds including puffins and Manx shearwater after a concerted effort to eradicate rats on the rocky outpost.
More than 200 breeding Atlantic grey seals also swim off the shores of the island, that was gifted to the National Trust in 1969.
At that time wildlife was struggling, but the charity joined forces with the Landmark Trust, who took over the day-to-day running of the island in the same year.
Since then, both organisations have done an enormous amount of work to protect and enhance Lundy’s wildlife and heritage.
Successes include the tripling seabird numbers thanks to an ambitious Seabird Recovery Project, set up by the National Trust, RSPB, Natural England and Landmark Trust in 2002 which made the island rat-free to give the dwindling number of seabirds a chance.
The island will now be protected for another 50 years once a new lease is signed this autumn, marking a new milestone in Lundy’s story. The 50-year lease solidifies each organisation’s commitment to continuing to care for Lundy, ensuring its special character and the experience which so many cherish can continue for the next half century.
In 2010 the sea around Lundy was designated the UK’s first Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ), which overlaps with the Special Area of Conservation that protects the island’s reefs, sea caves and sandbanks, as well as the Atlantic grey seal population.
And the island remains home to the Lundy cabbage – the only place this type of wild brassica can be found anywhere in the world.
A huge amount of restoration and repair work has also taken place, including St Helen’s Church, the Beach Road, the jetty, the fog battery and all of the Landmark Trust’s 23 self-catering properties. Landmark also runs the Marisco Tavern - the hub of the island along with the general stores.
Over 18,000 people visit the island each year on holiday or on a day trip, sailing on the island’s passenger and supply ship, MS Oldenburg, or flying out and back by helicopter during the winter months.
Rob Joules, National Trust General Manager for the North Devon Coast and Countryside, said: “Lundy is very special, and we now see people returning again and again to quietly soak up the unspoilt nature of the place on a day trip, or to stay a while.
“But to future proof Lundy we must continue to find new ways to protect and monitor its rare plant and animal life, and also make it more self-sufficient in its water supplies, waste management and energy sourcing. Lundy is exposed to the elements, and the impact of climate change must be addressed into the future.”
Janet Lister, National Trust Wildlife Adviser, added, “The recovery of the seabirds on Lundy is a huge step forward, but it’s important to remember that the island is also rich in marine mammals, wildflowers, and wild and semi-wild grazing animals.
“Monitoring and protecting rare species is a priority – from the Lundy cabbage, to wax cap fungi and small adder’s-tongue ferns. Introducing rich hay meadows while letting other areas go wild could add to the perfect patchwork of land that supports so much life and makes Lundy unique and important.”
Derek Green, Lundy General Manager, added: “We’re thrilled to be signing the new lease, especially at such a pivotal point in Lundy’s long history. The island offers a rare experience: large enough to have a life of its own, which visitors can share and enjoy, but small and far away enough to be a world apart.”
As well as being a haven for wildlife, Lundy is also one of the most important archaeological sites in the South West – with evidence of human life from the middle stone age.
This autumn, the National Trust is also launching a fundraising campaign to raise £50,000 annually to support the future of Lundy – protecting this remarkable island’s wildlife, landscape and historic sites while meeting the needs of its visitors.