Somerset Wildlife Trust

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£2.5 million comes to the Avalon Marshes

 28th Mar 2012

brue with cowAn ambitious and visionary scheme for the Avalon Marshes in Somerset has been awarded a £1,772,500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The support from HLF will secure further local income to raise a total of £2.5 million to be invested in landscape, heritage and training projects which celebrate the area’s rich 6,500 year history.

A broad range of landscape projects

The grant success follows a year of intensive work with local communities, stakeholders and conservation organisations to identify projects that will benefit and celebrate the Avalon Marshes. The result is a broad range of landscape projects and activities that will reinstate and preserve habitats and archaeological features; create new access paths and bird hides, along with interpretation; provide vocational training and learning opportunities; and numerous community heritage events such as a wetland festival.

Development Manager for the scheme, Alex Sherman, said: “The award of such a substantial grant reflects the global importance of the Avalon Marshes landscape and heritage. As well as showcasing the natural and historic significance of the area the scheme is creating an important chance for local people and organisations to help shape its future.

“It is thanks to the passion, commitment, and cohesion of the partnership, and the many local people and volunteers involved, that we have been successful in bringing this investment to the local area.”

Landscapes that inspire people

Richard Bellamy, acting Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said:

“Landscapes speak to the heart, inspiring people in all sorts of ways: be it poetry-writing, architectural design or even just the pleasure of looking at a beautiful view. They play a huge role in many of our lives in the South West but sadly, they can often be taken for granted. That is why we at HLF are delighted to be able to support these exciting plans for the Avalon Marshes. This scheme will give people from across the community the opportunity to come together to protect this precious environment around them, protecting wildlife and maintaining our cultural heritage for years to come.”

Hosted by Somerset Wildlife Trust, the Landscape Partnership also includes Natural England, the Hawk & Owl Trust, the RSPB, Somerset County Council, English Heritage and the Environment Agency. The partnership links with local communities through a local Avalon Marshes Forum.

The Avalon Marshes Landscape Partnership will be employing six people to deliver more than sixty projects, over the next three years. The raft of projects will enhance the wildlife and cultural heritage of the Avalon Marshes and will be getting underway this summer with archaeological training events and a young volunteers’ scheme, along with a local launch event. 

A chance to celebrate

Paul Sander-Jackson is a local resident who has been chairing the Landscape Partnership through the development of the grant application: “This funding is a great opportunity for the Avalon Marshes, helping to provide more training and skills in the area and jobs and volunteer opportunities in the landscape. People and local communities are central to the scheme and the future of the area, and this investment will enable more involvement with how it is managed and what it has to offer.”

Overall, the scheme will give the chance to celebrate -­ to celebrate the overwhelming significance of the Avalon Marshes to world history, to celebrate the iconic and less iconic species that rely on the natural abundance of the area and closer to home, for local people and visitors to celebrate a justly beloved landscape and its living and distant heritage.

To find out more about the scheme and what will be happening in the Avalon Marshes, contact Alex Sherman on 01458 860556 or email


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Notes to Editors

• The Avalon Marshes Landscape Partnership is made up of Somerset Wildlife Trust, Natural England, the RSPB, Somerset County Council, the Hawk and Owl Trust, English Heritage and the Environment Agency. The Partnership works with local people, stakeholders and communities to deliver projects and activities that boost and enhance the wildlife and cultural heritage in the Avalon Marshes.

• The Avalon Marshes is the wetland lowland area of Somerset stretching from Baltonsborough and Glastonbury in the east to East Huntspill in the west and from Mark in the north to the Poldens ridge. It is home to over 6500 years of active history including the oldest known track in Europe ­ the Sweet Track and a number of lake villages. The historical relevance and value is considered to be on a par with Stonehenge. The Avalon Marshes is also home to a huge range of wildlife including otters, bittern, starlings and birds of prey as well as being internationally important as a migratory stopping point for waders and over-wintering birds.

• HLF’s Landscape Partnerships are helping bring together members of the community as well as local, regional, and national organisations to deliver schemes which benefit some of the UK’s most outstanding landscapes and rural communities.  Grants range from £250,000 up to £2m.  

• Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage.  HLF has supported 30,000 projects, allocating £4.9billion across the UK.  Website: