Environment

Our environment is in crisis. We’re living on borrowed time with our planet’s most precious resources and climate change is not a distant threat, but a future that we all must adapt to. The world in which the Coast Path was first designated as a National Trail no longer exists - there has been a 41% decrease in UK species abundance since the 1970s[1]. The time has come for us to make a choice: to stand up for our natural environment or lose landscapes we love, forever.

Photo: Heddons Mouth, North Devon by Audrey Rowlatt

With your help, we could improve the South West Coast Path’s resilience to the damaging effects of climate change, ensuring people can access every mile, all year round. We could help save key habitats for wildlife and create new ones, as well as conserving the amazing flora and fauna that call it home. 

Why is the Coast Path so special?

As Britain’s longest National Trail, the 630 mile South West Coast Path wraps its way around the region creating a natural corridor through magnificent landscapes. It boasts an extraordinarily wide variety of habitats such as grassland, heathland, moorland, woodland, sand dunes, mud flats, coastal cliffs and saltwater marsh which support biodiversity. Over 70% of the Path is within a National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Not to forget other regional, national and international designations held including; 2 World Heritage Sites, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and Geopark, 5 RAMSAR sites, 7 Special Protection Areas; 13 Marine Conservation Zones; 8 Special Areas of Conservation; and over 50 Local and National Nature Reserves – which all recognise what a special pace this is.

Photo: Polperro, Cornwall by Donald Pelliccia

As anyone who has walked the Coast Path will know, it connects numerous communities across the south west,but human expansion and development in the region have created habitat ‘islands’, isolating wildlife and plant species. The Coast Path is therefore essential to the survival and conservation of wildlife, providing a vital link between protected areas, which would otherwise be seperated. By protecting and conserving the Trail, we can strengthen it as a link between fragmented habitats and give wildlife the best chance for survival in what are challenging times.

What wildlife does the Coast Path support?

Bees

Bees are critical to our ecosystem. Performing 80% of pollination worldwide, they are key to maintaining stable food supplies. But a range of factors such as use of pesticides, drought, habitat destruction, air pollution and global warming mean bee colonies are collapsing. The Trail is a last UK stronghold of endangered bee species.

Choughs

Historically, a familiar sight across Britain, the chough is now extremely rare, with just 500 breeding pairs in the UK and Isle of Man. The important population of choughs in Cornwall is currently the only one in England, but some have been sighted along the north Devon and Somerset Coast Path too.

Marine life

The Coast Path is the boundary between land and sea. This unique littoral corridor connects us intimately with the marine world and its creatures; an ever-changing environment impacted by the ebb and flow of tides and storms. Along the Trail you have the chance to see grey seals, common dolphins, harbour porpoise and various species of shark. 

What kind of work do we undertake to support the environment?

Discover some of our current projects benefiting wildlife and tackling environmental challenges:

 

References

[1] State of Nature Report 2019