What is Biodiversity? Species and habitats are lost and new ones develop through the process of evolution. The present rate of change; the threat of climate change and the impact of humans has meant evolution requires direct intervention; we need to manage biodiversity in a sustainable way.
Put more simply biodiverisity means the “variety of life” encompassing all species.
The Isles of Scilly Biodiversity Audit has its origins in the Rio Earth Summit which took place in June 1992. This agreement included the “Convention on Biological Diversity” ratified by the UK Government which in turn led to the UK Biodiversity Action Plan in 1994 and The UK Steering Group Report in 1995.
The South West Regional Biodiversity Audit resulted directly from UK legislation; the SouthWest formed the first regional initiative and the production of the South West Regional Biodiversity Audit in February 1996. It described the key species and habitats to be found in the region and had backing from the seven Wildlife Trusts, RSPB, English Nature (now Natural England), the Environment Agency and the South West Regional Planning Conference.
The Isles of Scilly Biodiveristy Audit publication represents the key first step in the process of producing a Biodiversity Action Plan to preserve the variety of species and habitats that make up the unique character of Scilly, both now and for the future.
The objectives of this Biodiversity Audit are:
- To assess the status and trends in biodiversity in the Isles of Scilly
- To identify the main issues affecting biodiversity
- To establish priorities for the conservation of biodiversity
- To make recommendations for immediate action to conserve and enhance the Isles of Scilly’s biodiversity
There are good sources of information available for the Isles of Scilly, in particular the Red Data Book for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, the annual Isles of Scilly Natural History Review produced by the Isles of Scilly Bird Group and the New Naturalist edition of The Isles of Scilly by Rosemary Parslow.
Discussion with experts and conservation organisations has been crucial in drawing together information for this Biodiversity Audit. Additionally, there are the numerous recording groups and individuals who diligently record; many are members of the influential Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Federation of Biological Recorders (CISFBR).
All of these sources have been used in combination with information published nationally, including action plans and regionally in The Biodiversity of the South West, to provide an up to date picture of the current status of habitats and species throughout the islands and, where possible, identify trends in their strength and distribution.
Wide consultation has been carried out to establish the main issues that affect biodiversity in the Isles of Scilly and how those issues influence habitats and species. Priorities have been established for the conservation of habitats and species of the Isles of Scilly, using the wide range of information available. Finally recommendations for action to conserve and enhance the Isles of Scilly’s biodiversity have been made.
At national and regional levels, it has proved effective to produce specific habitat or species action plans; but for all the priorities identified in this report a different approach has been taken.
Six recommendations have been developed which encompass all the identified priorities. These recommendations will provide the starting point for the next stage in the Biodiversity Action Planning process which could be the formation of working groups aimed at taking each recommendation forward. Implementation can be achieved through a variety of processes including precisely targeted action plans, broader generic actions or the inclusion of biodiversity priorities in existing or planned programmes of work.
Recommendation 1 – Promote and instigate survey work for those species and habitats on the Isles of Scilly priority lists, which need further research to establish their local conservation needs and status.
Recommendation 2 – Support and instigate monitoring and research of species and habitats on the Isles of Scilly priority list.
Recommendation 3 – Implement, maintain and monitor the work plans outlined in the Management Plans for Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust holdings.
Recommendation 4 – Work towards the inclusion of the Isles of Scilly in a South West or National Marine Protected Area network.
Recommendation 5 – Consider producing separate Action and mplementation plans for those species and habitats not covered under recommendations 1 to 4.
Recommendation 6 – Maintain the Conservation Advisory Group for the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust as a focus for delivering biodiversity action in Scilly.