Paul Davies, the Conservative Assembly Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire, joined the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, Natural Resources Wales and the University of Gloucestershire on a trip to Skomer Island last week.
Skomer Island is managed by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, and is home to internationally important populations of seabirds, including over 300,000 pairs of nocturnal Manx Shearwaters, as well as Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins.
The purpose of the site visit was to showcase the international significance of this seabird haven, and to discuss the huge value of the seabird monitoring information, in some cases including continuous monitoring dating back to the 1960s. These incredibly important datasets help the Wildlife Trust and its partners not only to understand how the birds are faring, but also to interpret the wider health of the marine environment.
Paul Davies AM is part of the Wales Environment Link Species Challenge Programme, and is the champion for Puffins. He said:
The trip to Skomer Island was a real eye opener and I’m very grateful to the Wildlife Trust for their wonderful hospitality. The visit was a great opportunity to learn more about the importance of the site both domestically and internationally to a range of seabirds and to see first-hand some of the seabird conservation work. As the Species Champion for the Atlantic Puffin, it was fascinating to learn a lot more about the puffin as well as also recognising the importance of the site to such a high percentage of the global breeding population of Manx Shearwater. I will of course, be taking this experience back to the Assembly and encouraging the Welsh Government to do all that it can to support seabird conservation and research to protect some of our more vulnerable species for the future.
Dr Lizzie Wilberforce, Conservation Manager for the Wildlife Trust, said:
It was a great privilege to be able to show Paul Davies our work on Skomer, of which we are very proud. It is such an important site, and we are very lucky to work in partnership with a number of universities and agencies on site, resulting not only in very high quality information on the status of populations, but also we see cutting edge research taking place. We are learn more every day about the lives of these birds whilst they are at sea. Maintaining this investment is essential if we are deliver the huge responsibility we have to safeguard this unique site.
Pat Lindley, from Natural Resources Wales, said:
The islands of Skomer and Skokholm are very special islands as they have the largest concentration of breeding seabirds in England and Wales, including the largest breeding colony of Manx shearwater in the world, and one of the largest colonies of nesting lesser black-backed gulls in Britain. The birds and the beautiful landscapes, seascapes and islands where they live help to attract thousands of visitors here every year and we wanted to show how we protect the habitats for the birds as they, alongside the fishing and recreational industries, are important for coastal businesses and enhance the quality of life of local people.
Skomer Island is a fifteen-minute boat journey from the Marloes peninsula in Pembrokeshire. The island is open to day visitors and overnight guests. More information about visiting is available on the Wildlife Trust’s website.