Our Mire Desire

Boswednack Mire Drone 2018

New year and the start of an exciting new habitat restoration project in West Cornwall. After 20 years of scrub encroachment at Boswednack Mire the countryside team kick started 2019 by pulling on their wellies and waterproofs and headed into the boggy environment to begin to improve this special site for nature.

What makes this place so special?

The site of Boswednack near Gurnards head in West Cornwall includes grassland fields, mire habitat (boggy ground) and cliff land. This site is a recognised special place for many reasons; it exists within the World Heritage Site and Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as well as being part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Much of this special place is looked after by one of our tenant farmers who have a herd of dairy cows grazing the fields. Outside of the tenancy lies cliff land which has been dominated by bracken in an unfavourable condition and an inland mire with dense purple moor grass tussocks and impenetrable scrub.

Purple moor-grass tussocks in Boswednack Mire
Purple moor-grass tussocks in Boswednack Mire
Purple moor-grass tussocks in Boswednack Mire

Purple-moor grass habitats have been lost over the years due to increased agriculture or have deteriorated due to mismanagement but they are recognised as very valuable habitats for a range of wildlife. 'Our Mire Desire' is to restore Boswednack mire and cliff to be a healthy, beautiful and natural environment for wildlife to thrive.

What is happening?

In the mire, scrub made up largely of willow, bramble and bracken, which has encroached over the important purple moor grass habitat will be cut back so that only islands of scrub remain. These islands of scrub will allow a range of wildlife to move through and around them. In January 2019 West Cornwall staff and volunteers kick started the year by weaving in and out of the tall tussocks of purple moor-grass and knee high boggy ground to begin the task of clearing and burning the encroached scrub using a mix of hand tools and machinery.

Later in 2019 we will introduce ponies to the area to graze, trample and nibble the encroaching scrub further and reduce the height of the purple moor grass tussocks so that a number of wildflower species can thrive without being shaded out. We will also create 2 ponds in the mire to introduce some standing water to encourage and support species of dragonflies, frogs and newts.

Frogspawn at Boswednack Mire
Frogspawn at Boswednack Mire
Frogspawn at Boswednack Mire
On the cliff at Boswednack the overgrown bracken will be treated to reduce its coverage. The ponies will be moved to the cliff to graze over the winter continuing their important work. In the future we hope to see this coastal grassland teeming with wildflower species, pockets of heather and scrub that will support populations of bees, butterflies, other insects and birds.