Tevi’s Connecting and regenerating land challenge network aims to explore the challenges faced by landowners and businesses looking to improve their land’s productivity and biodiversity by sharing solutions, demonstrating successful case studies, and providing support. This event showcased key examples of local regenerative land approaches for improvements in land productivity, ecosystem services and nature provisioning.

The session began with Natasha Collings-Costello from Cornwall Environmental Consultants  presenting about the opportunities for regenerating land in Cornwall. Natasha started by outlining the current state of the UK’s biodiversity, shockingly now 1 in 7 species in the UK face extinction. However, there is hope for biodiversity recovery as a study conducted by DEFRA in 2019 found that 9 out of 10 adults are concerned about increasing threats to the natural environment, with 2/3 specifically worried about biodiversity loss. Natasha focused on the many ways in which regenerated land can both benefit people and nature including by providing protected habitat, naturalising ecosystem services, and improving the aesthetic value of a site. She also explained the steps businesses need to take to start the regeneration process and key considerations including the necessity of site surveys, ecological mapping and the importance of tracking progress.

Natasha also highlighted the use the opportunity mapping tools in Lagas as key to understanding the value of your land and to discovering the potential of the land to support specific habitat types or planting schemes.

Here is a link to the Lagas website

We then heard from Karen Townsend and Paul Chaney about the amazing land regeneration work being done at Kestle Barton on the Lizard. Kestle Barton is an ancient Cornish farmstead that has been lovingly restored to facilitate both an arts centre and holiday accommodation. Restoration focused on both conserving the crumbling buildings and regenerating the land for native biodiversity and to reconnect people with nature. The site focuses on bringing art and nature to together, one of its key attractions is its wildflower meadow that attracts pollinators and people alike to enjoy its natural beauty. Paul, from Complex Earth, works with Kestle Barton to bridge digital technology with land restoration and agroecological services. He is in the process of developing an app – Agri/Culture 2.0 – that connects community land use and food production to engage audiences in demonstrating the future of food systems.

Chris Jones, a regenerative farmer and beaver advocate from the Cornwall Beaver Project provided insights into the importance of keystone species introductions in balancing natural systems and restoring land. Beavers are keystone species – species that are key to maintaining natural processes through the enhancement of biodiversity and habitat alterations. Beavers were hunted to extinction in Cornwall over 400 years ago. The reintroduction of beavers to Woodland Valley Farm to the heavily flooded Ladock village several years ago has resulted in significant flood reductions and water flow naturalisation. The habitat changes brought about by the activities of the beavers including making dams along the rivers has both reduced the flood risk of the area and increased its water storage capacity which in turn has enhanced the local land and stabilised downstream flows to enhance instream habitat. This case study clearly demonstrates the benefits of land restoration through natural processes and native species reintroductions – the Beavers on Woodland Valley farm have achieved far more efficient and effective flood management than human intervention could.

Finally, Catherine Pinney took us through several key case studies undertaken through collaborative work between the Cornwall Wildlife Trust (CWT) and Tevi that highlight the ecological and economic benefits of business-led land regeneration projects. Firstly, we heard about Bosinver, a rural holiday let business that undertook site visits and habitat mapping by ecologists to better connect their guests with local biodiversity. The work has led to the creation of a wildlife trail and the installation of wildlife camera traps to capture local nature. Secondly, Rosuick Farm, a sustainable and organic farm had their land mapped by CWT, who in combination with an ERCCIS data search, produced an action plan to regenerate key on-site habitat. This work led to the creation of several ponds, the protection of key threatened species and additional content for their educational programmes for local children. Finally, we worked with the GAIA Trust on Treraven Farm to conduct site and habitat mapping, resulting in the creation of a tree nursery, improved public access to on-site woodlands and land management equipment.

These case studies received grant funding and application assistance from Tevi, if you are interested in receiving such assistance please contact us here: https://tevi.co.uk/contact-us/.

During the subsequent panel Q&A session, our speakers discussed the need for nation-wide involvement in combating the UK’s biodiversity crisis and how widespread small changes are as essential in land improvements as policy change – such as the creation of hedgehog corridors between gardens. The panel also discussed the potential for species re-introductions to aid habitat conservation and protection through collaborative efforts. For instance, the reintroduction of beavers has the potential to create a UK recovery network of 40m wide riparian buffers against every waterway, which would also deliver the targets for wetland habitat restoration across the UK. The final discussion point was the importance of capitalising on the engagement with nature seen during lockdown and in enabling all people to connect and enjoy nature, especially those living in urban environments without direct access to green spaces.

The government is currently targeting a 10% net gain in biodiversity, and in order for this to be achieved, business-led solutions and collaborative efforts in regenerating and restoring land to connect people with nature and conserve biodiversity is essential.

As always, a huge thanks you to our speakers for their time supporting this event, and to the audience for their enthusiasm engaging with the speakers through the event and with their questions.

Tevi has many more upcoming webinars exploring the key economic and environmental challenges facing Cornwall. To view Tevi’s forthcoming events click here.

You can watch the session in full below: