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Scallops? On Samson?

Posted: Tuesday 22nd September 2015 by The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust

Samson, Isles of ScillySamson © Ed Marshall

This was one of my first points of confusion (well the first of many!) when I started working for the Trust. I saw "Path works (Scallop creation)" in one of the Ranger's diaries and thought to myself "What have scallops got to do with Samson? Limpets and winkles I understand; but scallops...?

What does any self respecting newbie do when faced with something that makes no sense?  Swallow their pride and ask of course and the answer was surprisingly simple and made a lot of sense!

So, are the Rangers going dredging and then chucking a load of scallops around on the paths and slopes of Samson?  Or maybe creating some kind of sculpture, or work of art, in the saddle out of scallop shells?  Although this might be an interesting sight the answer is no.  The Ranger Team will be cutting "scallops" into the paths!

What does this mean?

The name comes from the appearance of what is created and, therefore, it means exactly what it says on the tin and is fairly self explanatory, once you get into the right mindset.  Creating scalloped edges, along paths, not only makes them less straight and therefore more aesthetically pleasing but also creates larger surface areas, increasing the amount of foliage available to insects, and in turn more varied, miniature habitats along the way. 

The theory of "scalloping", cutting swathes into the edge of paths, is often used in woodland management but can also be ascribed to other areas of land management just as successfully; it allows the flora to develop whilst retaining shelter for the invertebrates (insects, bugs and creepy crawlies to you and me).

We don't have many straight, corridor-like paths in Scilly as they tend to have to go around features such as big lumps of granite and trees but "scalloping" in general terms helps to avoid this type of path.  It reduces the effect of wind funneling whilst at the same time creating sun traps, warmer sheltered pockets and shaded, cooler areas where little critters can hide out and generally enjoy life.


In essence "scallops" enhance the natural habitat diversity, by creating different layers or heights of foliage, and bugs, creepy crawlies, birds and mammals all benefit.


Not only will the wildlife benefit but we will too!  Many of the footpaths on Scilly are bordered by high bracken, gorse or brambles and (if you're short like me) you end up not being able to see anything and just marching through a tunnel of green and getting scratched to pieces.  

"Scalloping" will also help in situations like this again by creating less of a tunnel effect and more layered, softer edges to footpaths.  It's a win-win situation!

So, as well as the limpets and winkles, there will now be "scallops" on Samson, courtesy of the Ranger Team.  Next time you visit take a moment to have a look around and see if you can identify where the work has taken place and the difference it has made not only for you but also the wildlife! 

Let us know what creepy crawlies you see and if you get any photographs why not share them with us either via Twitter (@ScillyWildlife) or our FaceBook Page?

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