21 June 2011The latest LIFE Platform Meeting – on terrestrial invertebrates – took place last week in Newquay, Cornwall (UK). The two-day meeting (June 15-16) provided an opportunity for members of the LIFE Nature unit, project beneficiaries and other experts in invertebrate conservation to discuss some of the key issues regarding the conservation of these species. As well as sharing the experience of completed and ongoing LIFE projects, attendees considered how the LIFE programme can continue to support projects that enhance the conservation status of terrestrial invertebrates, an important and often overlooked area of nature conservancy.
More than 30 delegates from across the EU took part in the event, which was hosted by Natural England and organised by the monitoring team from Astrale. As well as detailed and fruitful discussions covering a wide range of terrestrial invertebrates – from butterflies to dragonflies, bees to saproxylic beetles – there was also a visit to two sites restored by the LIFE Mid-Cornwall Moors project (LIFE 03 NAT/UK/000042).
Typical British summer weather (cloud and rain) may have spoiled the chance of seeing the marsh fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia), but couldn't dampen delegates' enthusiasm as Wesley Smyth from Natural England showed how LIFE co-funding had been put to good use for the long-term conservation of this rare butterfly and its protected habitat, a Natura 2000 site. Of particular interest was the project's partnership with the UK Highways Agency, which enabled the re-routing of the A30, the main road through Cornwall, around the largest project site, Goss Moor, thereby re-connecting important heathland communities that had been isolated prior to the LIFE Nature project. “This required vision, willing partners and the Habitats Directive,” said Mr. Smyth.