The Isles of Scilly were designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1975 with a remit to protect and enhance their natural beauty. The AONB unit also works closely with the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust. The Trust’s role on the Islands is to manage all the untenanted land, uninhabited islands and rocks leased to it by the Duchy of Cornwall. It has three primary remits involving the conservation of marine wildlife and their habitats, the landscape, and the archaeological/historical remains. The Trust pays a rent to the Duchy of one daffodil per year!
Tourism is the lifeblood of the Island’s economy and provides employment for more than two thirds of the people living in Scilly.
The main season runs between March and October when more than 125,000 people visit, staying in a wide variety of accommodation from hotels, guesthouses and self-catering cottages through to campsites. The Duchy also lets two cottages to the holiday market.
People visit for the tranquility, clean seas, empty beaches and rare wildlife. Thus, conservation organisations continue to work closely with the tourism industry so that tourism can move forward and meet the demands of the modern visitor in a carefully managed and sustainable way.
For more information please visit the Isles of Scilly Tourist Information Centre.
Like many rural areas in popular tourist destinations, the provision of affordable housing is one of Scilly’s main challenges. To help address this problem, the Duchy is working with a Housing Association to provide 18 new affordable homes on St Mary’s and the off-islands. The Duchy of Cornwall is one of the key partners within The Prince of Wales’s Affordable Rural Housing Initiative and provides affordable units in a number of its developments. The Duchy also currently allocates 20 of its houses on the Isles of Scilly for key workers.
The Duchy is working on a number of initiatives to help regenerate island farm incomes. The Duchy supports the production and marketing of locally grown scented narcissi and is a member of Trenoweth Horticultural Centre on St. Mary’s. The centre’s main objectives are to carry out research and development to improve existing varieties of flower as well as to seek viable and sustainable alternatives in an ever demanding market.
Flower farming on the Isles of Scilly began in the 1860s and has shaped the landscape that can be seen on the Islands today. By the turn of the 20th Century over 40 tonnes of flowers were being shipped to markets in London several times a week. Narrow fields with high hedges, which protect the fragile flowers from the effects of Atlantic storms, are reminiscent of the type of smallholding once common across much of mainland Britain. The mild climate of the islands is one of the reasons that the industry has succeeded, with frost and snow rare due to the influence of the warm air of the Gulf Stream.
The Duchy is also actively involved with an initiative to promote the reintroduction of cattle and sheep to the islands with the dual purpose of conservation grazing and the provision of locally produced quality meat.