Isles of Scilly u3a – Climate Change
At our recent October meeting, members of the u3a South West Region met the Communications officer at the IOS Wildlife Trust and the Head of Environment at the IOS Council.
The effects of climate change are already being felt on Scilly.
For example, in 2017 nearly all the seal pups died after being swept out too soon by a series of ferocious storms; the overall number of breeding seabird pairs declined by 31% between 1983 and 2015/16 and the kittiwake population has reduced by 89% since 2006. During this summer, there were no nesting kittiwakes around the islands for the first time. Until 15 years ago there were over 200 pairs. It is thought this seabird is threatened by warming sea waters and a change in the marine food chain.
Although wildlife is suffering from the effects of climate change, The IOS Wildlife Trust has a wealth of expertise and works with a number of other agencies to manage and protect the habitat of a huge number of species on Scilly, including seabirds, bees, seagrass and mammals. We are all very grateful for what they achieve.
The other major issue is coastal erosion and possible seawater incursion into an important source of drinking water at Porth Hellick. One farmer on St. Martin’s is fearful that his farm will be unusable in 25 years’ time. There is a long heritage connected to his farm and he has spent the last 20 years working on it. The hedges bordering his farm are literally on the edge of the coast and if these go there is no protection. During the storms of 2014, several feet of coastline was lost just beyond his farm.
The good news is that in March 2021 the £3.7m Climate Adaptation Scilly project was launched. Over the next 3 years, there will be flood defence improvement works across all the islands, protecting homes, habitats, critical infrastructure and our water supplies.
The Cornwall Climate Care charity has recently launched an excellent film via Eventbrite, ‘Living on the Edge’, narrated by a runner who you follow as she travels around the coast, witnessing themes around climate change in Cornwall. I have been told that this film will be released on YouTube within the next couple of weeks so look out for that. It’s a very honest account of the difficulties facing those living ‘on the edge’ in Cornwall and Scilly.
The aim of our October meeting was to kickstart a new Climate Change group. We hope to be as practical as possible in helping to reduce our carbon footprint; for example, working with the Council on new recycling measures and the Wildlife Trust, organising beach cleans. Our next one on Town Beach is at the beginning of December. Hopefully, in a number of small ways, we will make a difference.