The idea for this book was conceived in 1994 by the staff at the Cornish Biological Records Unit (then part of the University of Exeter and supported by Cornwall County Council), when it was decided that there was a real need for a book on the wildlife of the region that brought together information on the rare species present in an organised way. The distribution of the species recorded here is largely based on the wildlife records held at the CBRU, which at its closure held over a million records covering over 21,000 different wildlife species. Each chapter has been written by different authors, all of whom are experts on the distribution of their chosen taxonomic group within the region and all of whom acknowledge the help they have received from consultation with local and national experts. This book is the culmination of three years of collaborative work, bringing together the knowledge of a wide range of people. It has been a privilege to work with the authors listed here.

Adrian Spalding

Academic Director, Cornish Biological Records Unit (1993-1996)


Preface to the 2nd Edition

The pace of change in conservation is rapid nowadays and information very quickly becomes out of date. Since the first edition of this book was published there has been a large increase in interest in biological recording and we know much more about the distribution of wildlife in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. We hope that at least part of this increased interest was generated by the publication of the 1st edition of this book. In 2007, a small group of us decided that it was timely to produce an updated version of the Red Data Book to take account of the new information available. The writing has taken longer than expected; the first edition took three years, the second has taken two years.

 This book does not aim to highlight the dangers to our wildlife but rather celebrate what we have. This book does not provide a red list of threatened species; in fact, several of the nationally rare species are common in Cornwall and not in danger. Nevertheless we hope that it is a useful tool for conservationists to inform their difficult decisions upon which species to focus effort, perhaps on the basis of evolutionary worth linked to the likelihood of success and the limiting role of money (i.e. conservation importance linked to cost benefit analysis). This is not an “authorised work” in the sense that it is not published by a statutory body – but it is authorised by being compiled by the some of the foremost wildlife specialists working within Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

 The majority of the authors are the same as before; perhaps this shows that a prevailing interest in wildlife is an aid to long life, as there is always something new to discover to encourage us to keep on going year after year. A few authors have moved away and are doing other things; Barry Candy (now deceased) moved to Cornwall partly to further his studies on fungi – his account has been updated by Paul Gainey. Other authors have joined us, to contribute their specialist knowledge. It has been a privilege once again to be part of this team.

Adrian Spalding