Restoring the Cornish heathlands

The Sensory Trust, Landlife and English Nature worked together to give communities in mid Cornwall the chance to repair their local post-mining landscapes. Areas of china clay waste don't typically provide easy access but we chose an area where the land was reasonably level so it would be possible for people with limited mobility to join in. In practice, with a bit of help, wheelchair users made it to the top of the steep slopes too.

line of people sowing seed on a china clay waste heap

The event was promoted to people in the local area by circulating flyers and going into pubs to explain and spread by word of mouth. We have found that promoting an event purely as a nature conservation activity tends to attract people who are already familiar with nature-based activities. We wanted to attract a more diverse group and we wanted people to know the event wasn't just about sowing seeds so we added plenty of other creative activities for folks of all ages. From making mud pictures to nature tiaras, people got involved in a whole mix of activities in addition to the seed sowing. Thanks to all who turned up on the day the amazing 'surface of the moon-like' site was covered in seeds of bluebells, cowslips, and heather.

Sowing wildflower seeds on china clay waste in Cornwall

Steve Bradburn, a community artist, came along to work on a permanent piece of artwork with the participants. This proved really popular and a great way of getting people engaged. The picture opposite shows Steve with a willing helper building a permanent Cairn. This was done with stone found on the site.

Seed sowing event on china clay waste heap

Steve also created various methods for sowing the seeds, including ingenius seed wangers. These were long poles with small wooden cups at the end. Into the cups went the seeds, while the other end was put into the ground. The cup end was then pulled back and let go. A very exciting way to spread seeds!!

Our very own Sarah Williams set up seed tiara making for everyone, and also got some of the kids involved in mud sculpting.

Making tiaras from nature materials

Future plans are to link in with further china clay regeneration events throughout the region, to ensure that access to is open to all, from the word go.

This work was part of the English Nature Initiative 'Putting back the wild heart of Cornwall' in partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund and Imerys, restoring heathland over a 30 square mile area of land that has been heavily influenced by the China Clay industry.