Somerset Wildlife Trust has received a grant of £494,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the Routes to the River Tone project, it was announced today. The project aims to engage local people with the wildlife on their doorstep and, with their help, to improve the town’s green spaces and waterways protecting rare species like water vole and four species of bat including brown long-eared and lesser horseshoe bats.
Surveys, walks, website, training, play
Through the project the Trust will be working with local people to improve wildlife habitats along the River Tone, its tributaries, and the associated green spaces. The project will also uncover some of the history of the Tone and how it has changed and shaped Taunton during the town’s development. Activities will include wildlife surveys of rare and threatened species such as water voles and bats, and the creation of a dedicated wildlife website for the town. Themed wildlife walks will be developed that explore the tributary streams that run through the town and there will be a variety of events, volunteering opportunities and training available. The project will work with local schools to encourage children to value their natural environment and create opportunities for children to enjoy wild play.
For the benefit of people and wildlife
“Amongst the traffic, houses and businesses of Taunton a surprising array of rare and threatened wildlife species survive and thrive," said Janet Keeble, Community and Outreach Manager for Somerset Wildlife Trust. “We are thrilled that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this award and look forward to making a difference in the town for the benefit of people and wildlife. Taunton has some great spaces for nature and we look forward to working closely with the Taunton Deane Borough Council and local people to protect these spaces for current and future residents to enjoy.”
Deputy Leader of Taunton Deane Borough Council, Cllr Mark Edwards, said: “The River Tone and its tributaries are vital for Taunton. Since the Vision for Taunton was unveiled, and now through our regeneration programme Project Taunton, we are putting the river back as the focus for the county town, we want the community to turn towards the River not turn its back and this project certainly helps make that a reality."
“The award from the Heritage Lottery Fund is fantastic news and Taunton Deane Borough Council looks forward to working with Somerset Wildlife Trust on this exciting project.”
Nerys Watts, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South West England, said: “The River Tone is fundamental to the survival of Taunton’s richly diverse and, in many cases, rare wildlife. This project provides a huge opportunity for local people to discover more about the nature on their doorstep and get involved in helping to conserve it for the future.”
Routes to the River Tone is a partnership project led by Somerset Wildlife Trust and including Taunton Deane Borough Council, Environment Agency, Somerset County Council the Canal and Rivers Trust and the Taunton Deane Area group of Somerset Wildlife Trust.
Photograph of River Tone © Ian Brown