NATURE RESERVES FUND RETURNS TO SAFEGUARD SOMERSET’S WILD PLACES AND BEST LOVED WILDLIFE

Somerset Wildlife Trust is pleased to present the return of its successful Somerset Nature Reserves Fund. Launched in 2016, the Fund was established to raise money to safeguard some of Somerset’s most iconic landscapes and precious wildlife, and has already helped achieve some enormous gains for wildlife across the county. The Trust hopes that this year it will be able to do the same with the help and support of wildlife lovers across Somerset who will hopefully kindly donate this year.

Tim Youngs, Director of Land Management, explained, “In Somerset we are incredibly lucky to have some amazing habitats from internationally renowned wetlands and ancient woodland, to species-rich grassland and magnificent meadows, each requiring specific conservation programmes in order for the unique biodiversity to not only survive, but thrive.

“Our nature reserves within these special places are the bedrock upon which we are able to deliver critical conservation work and, to ensure these special places are kept healthy, an incredible amount of planning and resource is involved – our reserves cost nearly £2,000 a day to maintain, which is a significant outlay.  As the seasons and weather change, we have to continually adjust and fine-tune our work and habitat programmes, such as grazing management – with the failure to provide the necessary feeding and breeding grounds at certain times potentially having detrimental consequences for species the following year.

“Having extra funds not only means that we can continue with our practical conservation work on our reserves, but helps us to be prepared for what the future may hold. We will be able to respond faster and provide on the ground solutions when we are faced with unforeseen challenges – such as ash dieback.”

The Fund last year supported some amazing results for wildlife and was critical in conserving habitats for populations of some of Somerset’s most charismatic wildlife, from otters to dormice. The county is now the stronghold for Bittern, with five booming males recorded last year on Somerset Wildlife Trust’s National Nature Reserve Westhay Moor, thanks to the restoration of their reedbed habitat. And the Trust’s Green Down Reserve now holds 36% of the UK population of Large Blue Butterfly.

Katie Arber, Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Director of Fundraising and Marketing, added, “It is very clear from the response we received last year that Somerset Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves are held dear by many people. Somerset’s wildlife is part of what makes living, working and visiting the county so special. Our members and supporters have been always been generous and we hope that they will give what they can again for what is a very important fundraising initiative for the Trust.  We also hope the wider public and local businesses who value their green spaces, and understand and appreciate their value in their lives, will support the Fund and help us ensure Somerset remains a wildlife rich county.”

For more information on the Fund and some examples of where monies raised will be spent, please visit Somerset Wildlife Trust’s website: www.somersetwildlife.org/reservesfund

Any gift given to The Somerset Nature Reserves Fund will go directly to wherever the need is greatest on Somerset Wildlife nature reserves, ensuring that they are kept in the best possible condition to support wildlife and our conservation goals.  You can donate securely by card on our website (link above) or by telephoning 01823 652429. Every donation, whatever the size, will make a difference.

PHOTO: Hazel dormouse by James Maben.

KNIT FOR NATURE AND HELP PROTECT BARN OWLS ACROSS SOMERSET

Somerset Wildlife Trust is excited to announce the release of its  latest Knit for Nature™ pattern – Boris the Barn Owl –  as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the decline of much-loved Somerset species and get communities inspired to pick up their knitting needles to raise much needed funds for wildlife conservation in the county. Boris follows on from the success of Rustle and Bluebell Hedgehog patterns.

Somerset Wildlife Trust is dedicated to protecting vulnerable species such as hedgehogs and barn owls by creating richer and more sustainable habitats for them across their reserves – but they need the public’s help to ensure this important work continues. Action is needed now from people and communities where these wonderful animals choose to make their homes. So, whether you are a nifty knitter or knitting novice, there’s a simple way that YOU can support their work AND have fun at the same time!

You can get your hands on the wonderful new pattern and others from Somerset Wildlife Trust’s website and all proceeds will go directly to the work they do to safeguard vulnerable species in the county. To download the pattern go to: www.somersetwildlife.org/knit_for_nature

You can not only raise money by buying the pattern, but why not also raise funds through hosting a tea party or coffee morning to knit with friends and sell cakes or other crafts at the same time. Every penny raised makes a real difference.

Barn Owl numbers have declined by 70% in the UK since the 1930s due to the changes in land use and loss of available nest sites and reduction of the rough grassland areas that support their small mammal prey. We have also lost around 30% of our hedgehog population since 2002 due to the disappearance of our hedgerows and permanent pasture, increase in roads and traffic and the use of pesticides amongst other things.

Don’t forget to share photos of your creations on social media -­ maybe you knitted Boris in some crazy colours, or perhaps you took Bluebell with you to a wild or exotic location? Somerset Wildlife Trust want to know!

Share your photos and stories with them using #knitfornature on Twitter (@SomersetWT), Facebook (@somersetwildlifetrust) Pinterest or email them to wildlifenews@somersetwildlife.org and they will feature them on our website. Please also share them with Exmoor Magazine (@exmoormagazine) on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

If you’d like to send some barn owls or hedgehogs back to the Trust, the address is Somerset Wildlife Trust, 34 Wellington Road, Taunton, TA1 5AW

‘Knit for Nature’ is a registered trademark of Somerset Wildlife Trust.

PHOTO: Rustle, Bluebell and Boris photographed by Paul Mitchell.