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Skokholm Island bought by the Welsh Wildlife Trust.

30/10/2006 00:00:00

Skokholm facts

  • Visitors can stay on Skokholm in Wildlife Trust accommodation between April and October, but there are no day trips, and private boats are not able to moor alongside.
  • The island is excellent for birds, supporting species like puffins, Manx shearwaters, storm petrels, guillemots, razorbills, fulmars, herring gulls, lesser and great black-backed gulls, and ravens. Porpoises can often be seen feeding around the island, along with bottle-nosed dolphins, Risso’s dolphin, and minke whales. Grey seals breed in the autumn on the island’s tiny beaches and in secluded caves.
  • Skokholm may mean “wooded island” in Norse, but nowadays the only signs of woodland are indicator species like lesser celandine and bluebells. The vegetation is wind-pruned and trimmed by rabbits, but inedible plants like thrift, sea campion and golden rod provide carpets of colour in spring and early summer.
  • There is a lighthouse on the exposed western headland. The light is run by solar power and is tinted red on the landward side to help prevent birds being dazzled and damaged at night.
  • When Ronald Lockley lived on the island, he rebuilt the farmhouse with timber from the wrecked schooner, the Alice Williams. He also salvaged tons of coal and other useful items. The ship’s wheel and ornate figurehead remain on the island.
The Welsh Wildlife Trusts have completed the purchase of one of the UK’s most spectacular wildlife havens.

Skokholm Island, a 247-acre island three miles off the Pembrokeshire coast, has been bought following a six-month fundraising drive. Grants were received from the Countryside Council for Wales, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, and the Tubney Charitable Trust. Donations from wildlife-lovers across the world helped push the total to £650,000. The appeal remains open to raise further funds for future management of the mile-long island.

The island was once owned by the Earl of Pembroke and last changed hands in 1646, when it was bought for £300 by William Philipps, a barrister and one of the founders of the Dale Castle Estate.
Manx Shearwater on Skokholm Island. © Crown Copyright
The family estate has owned it ever since and reluctantly decided to offer it for sale last summer following the death of Mrs Osra Lloyd-Philipps. The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) has managed the island for the past 50 years, and was given preferred purchaser status by the executors.

Roger Turner, chair of WTSWW said: 'We are thrilled to be the new owners of the island, and would like to thank everyone who has made this possible.'

'As well as donations from major organisations, we received more than £150,000 from individuals. They included Wildlife Trust members, people living throughout Wales, and those from further afield who had either visited the island in the past or had some other connection.
Guillemot. © Crown Copyright
'It was a huge challenge to raise the funds required in the timescale given but, with the support of the whole Wildlife Trust movement and our funders, we did it.'

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales also manages neighbouring Skomer Island on behalf of the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW). Roger Thomas, CCW’s chief executive, said: 'We are delighted that Skokholm has been bought by the Wildlife Trusts and we were pleased to be able to help with the purchase. 'Both Skokholm and Skomer are internationally-important for birds and other wildlife and we look forward to seeing the Wildlife Trusts continue to care for these very special islands.”

Skokholm, which is Norse for 'wooded island', was made famous by the naturalist and author Ronald Lockley, who set up the first bird observatory in Britain there in 1933. It is one of the most important seabird breeding sites in Europe. The island is internationally recognised for its importance to wildlife, classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

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