Skokholm Island is an internationally important nature reserve situated off the south west coast of Wales. There is a general introduction to the reserve here.
Ronald Lockley, the eminent naturalist and author, leased Skokholm from 1928 to 1948 and set up the UK’s first Bird Observatory on the island. Bird Observatories conduct long-term monitoring of bird populations and migration, and encourage volunteers to participate in scientific studies of birds and the environment.
The results help inform conservation policy and help prove the impacts of global processes such as climate change.
During his time on the island, Lockley rebuilt the existing farm complex, using mainly materials from the shipwreck of the ‘Alice Williams’, much of which is still present in the buildings, including the figurehead.
Lockley also set up the Pembrokeshire Bird Protection Society in 1938, which became the West Wales Field Society (the fore-runner of the present Wildlife Trust), which took over the island lease in 1948, with Lockley still heavily involved. Thus the involvement of the Wildlife Trust dates back to 1948, and many of the Friends of Skokholm and Skomer (a group of volunteers dedicated to helping manage the islands) have been involved from the early days.
Although the island is not currently registered as a Bird Observatory, we hope to regain that status within the next few years and the strong tradition of scientific research combined with sound conservation management carried out by Wildilfe Trust staff and volunteers has continued unabated since Lockley’s time.
In 2007, the Wildlife Trust bought the freehold of the Island for £600,000 and a year later, the island was declared a National Nature Reserve.
The money was raised through a combination of appeal donations and major grants (e.g. Tubney Charitable Trust, Heritage Lottery Fund). The original value of the island was £500,000 but a private bidder raised the price, meaning we had less money for the restoration work.