New report reveals bird declines in Cornwall


A new report has shown that various bird species have suffered declines in Cornwall. 

In 2019 the national State of Nature report gave the worrying news that, since 1970, some 41% of species have declined in abundance across the UK. Cornwall Wildlife Trust wanted to know if the same was true in the county, so teamed up with Cornwall Council and the University of Exeter and analysed a huge volume of data to produce the State of Nature Cornwall 2020 report.

The number of breeding Kittiwake pairs in Cornwall has declined by 57% (Nick Brown).

The report shows that many species groups are in trouble and nearly half of the breeding birds are in serious decline. Among them are Eurasian Skylark (-28%) and Chaffinch (-22%), while Kittiwake has seen a 57% fall in breeding pairs in part due to the altering climate. There has also been a 30% decline in farmland bird species in Cornwall between 1994 and 2019.

Nearly half of terrestrial mammals are found in fewer places in the Duchy and three-fifths of butterflies are found in fewer places. In the same period, 152 km of hedgerow and Cornish hedge has been lost.

While the report paints a generally gloomy picture, it does include some good news, detailing where concentrated conservation efforts have brought species back from the brink of local extinction – such as Chough, Water Vole and Cirl Bunting.

Cheryl Marriott, head of conservation at Cornwall Wildlife Trust, said: "There are parts that make for difficult reading – Cornwall's wildlife is in a bad way and continued species decline will inevitably lead to local extinctions. But more positively, we did find that public appreciation of wildlife has surged during lockdown and we know from our work that together we can make a difference and bring nature back. That gives me hope we can still turn the situation around."

The findings will be used by Cornwall Council in the Local Nature Recovery pilot they are delivering as one of only five national projects testing this new approach for nature, as set out in the Environment Bill. Cornwall Council is asking residents to have their say on what is needed for nature's recovery by completing a new Nature Recovery Plan survey on the Let's Talk Cornwall website.