Somerset Wildlife Trust

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Routes to the River Tone

Routes to the River Tone project is connecting local people with the amazing wildlife of Taunton's waterways. 
Funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund and led by Somerset Wildlife Trust, this three year partnership project, inspires the communities of Taunton to see their town in a new light, and encourages them to explore the rich natural wealth it possesses.

Why the project is needed

The majority of the UK’s population now lives in an urban setting. Often, however, the perception is that wildlife is only found on nature reserves and that towns are barren places, where little wildlife can be found; yet nothing could be further from the truth in Taunton.

The town is blessed with a rich tapestry of interwoven green spaces and waterways, teeming with an amazing variety of wildlife. The electric-blue flash of a kingfisher, the comic ‘plop’ of a diving water vole, even the playful splash of an otter are all surprisingly common, but, sadly, much of this is overlooked by the majority of those who live and work here, a finding that is reflected nationwide.

Research has shown that access to rich and vibrant open spaces improves our health and well-being, making people happier and healthier. It gives people space to commute, to play, to exercise, and space to learn… or simply space to sit and be. Access to nature is important for all of us and what is good for wildlife is also good for us!

By working to encourage the people who live and work in Taunton to appreciate the wildlife that lives here too, we hope to help make Taunton a better place for people and for wildlife.

What we aim to do

The project encompasses four main elements:

Exploring Taunton’s Wild Spaces: We want to support, encourage and inspire people throughout Taunton to explore their local wild spaces and meet the wildlife that lives there, developing a sense of ownership, pride and involvement in these spaces.

Protecting Taunton’s Wild Spaces: By encouraging local communities to get involved in looking after their green spaces, including planting trees and sowing wildflower meadows, we will create a richer natural environment, benefitting both wildlife and local people.

Discovering Taunton’s Wildlife: Through encouraging people to take part in neighbourhood survey programmes, we will map out the important wildlife corridors that link Taunton into the wider countryside and help ensure these corridors are safeguarded into the future.

Enjoying Taunton's Wild Spaces: Our events, learning experiences and forest school sessions will encourage families, children, schools and the general public to explore the natural world.

What we hope to achieve

Our vision is a vibrant network of wild spaces across Taunton, rich in wildlife and valued and supported by local people. To achieve this we will ignite a spark in the town’s residents, inspiring them to begin a journey of exploration, experiencing nature first hand. For many this will be a new and exciting adventure, one which will continue well beyond the lifetime of the project.

Building in support from communities, partners and the local business community is key to the project’s success and the long-term sustainable management of Taunton’s natural heritage, and will ensure that wildlife, and the places it lives, are important, relevant and cared for, making Taunton a richer place for wildlife and people.

How can you help

We need as many people as possible to work with us to help make this dream a reality in Taunton. It is only if we all work together that we will succeed, and there are many ways in which you can help.

To find out how what you can do, practically, to help make this dream a reality, including volunteering on our team, check out our Get Involved section.
To tell us about your wildlife sightings check out our Taunton's Wildlife section.
If you’ve got ideas to share, would like to let us know what you're doing for wildlife in Taunton or be kept up to date with what is going on in the project, check out our Get In Touch page.

Routes to the River Tone is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The project aims Heritage Lottery Fund
to engage local people with the wildlife on their doorstep and, with their help, to improve the town’s green spaces and waterways which provide important wildlife habitat for rare species like water vole and four species of bat including brown long-eared and lesser horseshoe bats.

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, Natural England, the Canal and Rivers Trust and the Taunton Deane Area group of Somerset Wildlife Trust.

ViridorViridor is the lead corporate sponsor of Routes to the River Tone project

Water vole © Ben Simmonds /, Otter © Elliot Smith