Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Cemlyn's Changing Coastline

Cemlyn: A place of big skies, seabirds and storms. (c) NT/Joe Cornish
Cemlyn is a place of big skies; a refuge for wildlife and a sanctuary for those wishing to escape everyday life and find solace in breathtakingly beautiful scenery. 

But we face a big challenge keeping it that way…

Climate Change: Challenge or Opportunity?

This two-mile stretch of National Trust land, half a mile from the village of Cemaes on the North Anglesey coast, is of exceptional environmental and cultural value.  It is home to an internationally important breeding colony of Sandwich terns, includes a historic mill and church and was the site of Anglesey’s first lifeboat.

The estate includes two family-run farms, two smallholdings and is a popular destination for walkers, bird-watchers and kayakers.

But Cemlyn faces an uncertain future.  Much of the estate is low-lying and is already affected by coastal flooding and erosion.  Wildlife, historic features and the farming way of life are all threatened by climate change, raising serious questions about the future of the estate. 

Sea-level rise projections require a radical re-think about land use and access routes on the estate (1m sea level rise marked in light blue).
Ordnance Survey data (c) Crown Copyright and database
The land also sits right next door to the site of the proposed Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station which, if it goes ahead, will be one of Europe’s biggest construction sites.

If ever there was a need for a clear conservation vision, this is it.

Take a look at Cemlyn’s breathtakingly beautiful coastline from the air

Storms over-top the shingle ridge, lowering its height and flooding farmland (Photo: Jane Rees)
Parking problems?  The main car park is frequently flooded by the tide, making it necessary to plan for its relocation.

Stormy Waters

Sea levels are rising.  Since records began at nearby Holyhead in 1965, there’s already been a 17.8 cm rise in mean high water.

By the end of the century, land currently being used for silage, crops and grazing at Cemlyn will be underwater at the highest tides.  The shingle ridge that protects the islands which support 20% of the UK Sandwich terns may be breached and access roads, car parks and footpaths will be unusable.

"The 12 highest recorded high tides [at nearby Holyhead] have all occurred since 1997"
 Prof. Ken Pye, Environmental Scientist and advisor to the Cemlyn vision project

Seeking a shared vision

We’ve recently started to share our ideas for Cemlyn’s future with our farming tenants, conservation partners and the local community.  This follows two years of detailed research, which has involved studies of the hydrology, geomorphology, soils and farming practices of the estate. 

A picture is emerging of threatened habitats, livelihoods and farming traditions that stretch back for generations.

Sharing our vision

We’ve taken our stand to the Anglesey Show and held a Cemlyn Open Day to share our vision and gather feedback from locals and visitors.

We are sharing what we know about the challenges of climate change with those who depend on Cemlyn for their livelihood

The North Wales Wildlife Trust has been managing the Cemlyn Lagoon, with its thriving tern colony, for over 40 years.  Their expertise has been crucial to developing the vision, and we have also been in discussion with the Isle of Anglesey County Council and the RSPB.  Thanks to Jane Rees/NWWT for this 1970s archive photo, showing volunteers repairing the damaged weir.

Our role is to defend the beauty and wildlife of this amazing stretch of coast.  If the timeless habitats and farming heritage are to survive at this special place, we must prepare now to overcome the challenges of climate change by working with our farming tenants, the community and conservation partners. 

To help visualise the likely changes we commissioned an artist's impression of how the landscape will look in our grandchildren's time

Did you know?

Cemlyn has a fascinating nature conservation history dating back nearly a century.  Download our timeline to find out more.

 We would like to hear from you

If you would like to contribute to our vision, or just want to let us know what you think, please feel free to use the comment facility on this blog, or contact me

To find out more, download our bilingual vision document

You may need to download the Dropbox app to view the above link.  Contact me if you'd like me to email you a copy.

Gwerthfawrogaf eich sylwadau ar ddyfodol Cemlyn.


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