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The Selwood Living Landscape Programme aims to restore, recreate and re-connect the landscape across the area once covered by one of the major ancient hunting forests of old England - Selwood Forest in East Somerset. Landowners and communities in the area are invited to join Somerset Wildlife Trust in exploring the opportunities and benefits that the Selwood Living Landscape Programme could bring for wildlife and for people.
We are trying to develop a lasting legacy for the landscape and the people that live and work in it, which includes positive benefits for wildlife in the longer term. A landscape-scale programme which includes the ancient Selwood Forest area and surrounding parishes, gives those who live there an opportunity to look back at the past and from that inspiring legacy, think about what they would like to take into the future.
Our work in the area is focussed on the following:
There is a range of habitats in the Selwood area from grassland and hedgerows through to woodlands and orchards, all within the context of a farmed landscape. By using data gathered through our mapping work, we aim to provide specific land management advice - working with or through local advisors - which will balance the need for economic viability with environmental sensitivity, but still create resilient ecological networks for wildlife to thrive.
We want to apply our theoretical knowledge of ecological networks into on the ground conservation practice. An important aspect of this work is research into practical ways of enhancing ecological connections. We plan to undertake species and habitat surveys and modelling work, identifying those which are under threat and agreeing actions to address those threats, as well as developing a plan to enhance and link up remaining wildlife-rich sites to recreate a dynamic and robust landscape for wildlife in the longer term.
Ecological networks are now an important tool in planning policy. Key to the work outlined above, will be working with local authorities on planning policy and training to help them and others better understand how to incorporate nature into planning considerations. We want to link work in the Selwood area with similar work being undertaken across other districts in Somerset and to raise the importance of considering ecological networks at an appropriate scale in planning considerations.
Over the past year 600 hectares (equivalent to 600 football pitches) of habitat have been remapped by on the ground surveys, carried out by the Trust’s Matthew Marshall, combined with historical data and information from neighbouring Wiltshire. This vital information is now part of the Somerset Habitat map a piece of work being led by the Trust mapping every field in county. This map allows us to plot out ecological networks based on core areas of wildlife rich habitat and the permeability of wider landscape.
Matthew said: “The mapping has been a key exercise and we are keen to share this information with local farmers and landowners. By looking at the habitats as a network of connected areas we can start to build a better picture of how wildlife moves across the Selwood landscape.”
If you would like to find out more about our work in Selwood Matthew can be contacted on