What does the Group do and how can I get involved?
As part of Somerset Wildlife Trust, we aim to promote and support wildlife issues in the widest sense, from climate change to food production, bio-diversity on land and ocean through to local wildlife walks and talks.
We are particularly excited about the development of the Taunton Living Landscape and the Routes to the River Tone project where the local Area Group has been heavily involved as one of the partners with other bodies such as Taunton Deane Borough Council and the Environment Agency. The project has brought together the community to enhance and connect green spaces with the River Tone and its tributaries so creating a network of places where wildlife can thrive and people feel alive. The project is particularly important because of the proposed housing and employment developments in Taunton up to 2028. Although the main project finished at the end of March 2017, there is still some ongoing work until the end of June.
We are very grateful for all the hard work put in by Nick Tomlinson, Rose Gater, Claire Mountjoy and Olivia Dullaghan who have done so much to make the Project a success. We thank them for what they have done and wish them well for the future. They have made a significant impact on the local community and have worked closely with local schools, including 9 primaries. They have also trained a team of teachers in the ncessary skills to carry on their work. In addition, teams of volunteers have been carrying out bat surveys across the town and have gathered significant amounts of data which has been analysed and will now form the basis of ongoing discussions with the local Planning Authorities about where and how future development should take place. Surveys of water voles are have also taken place .Further information can be found on the main Wildlife Trust web site and the dedicated Routes to the River Tone web site. We are now closely involved in how to follow on with the legacy of the project to ensure that the benefits of the project are sustained.
Our annual Wildlife Week is closely linked to the Routes to the River Tone project and a range of activities took place in June this year, following on from the very successful annual Somerfest. Over the next couple of years we will be working closely with other environmental groups in Taunton such as the Friends of Hamilton Park and a "Green Forum" has been established to bring together like-minded groups from across the town. This is particularly important with the award of "Garden Town" status to Taunton..
One element of the Living Landscape project is Longrun Meadow. A number of organisations including Friends of Longrun, Somerset Wildlife Trust, Taunton Deane Borough Council and the Environment Agency have come together and are preparing a plan to manage and develop the area. More and more people are making use of this wonderful facility which is so close to the town centre.
We are also provide support to local communities who wish to be involved in Neighbourhood Planning, a Government initiative aimed at making local communities feel that they have a greater say in the Planning process in their area. We hope that they will use the opportunity to make space for wildlife as well as address the issue of Sustainability.
We are all absolutely delighted that Anita Harris, a long time member of the Somerset Wildlife Trust and our local Area Group Committee was given a Volunteer Award following the 2016 Annual General Meeting of the Somerset Wildlife Trust. Anita has been a very active member of Somerset Wildlife Trust, organsing the events run by the Area Group and also throwing open her garden in spring to see the wonderful Snowdrop display as well as taking part in bat surveys as part of the Routes to the River Tone project. Well done, Anita!!
To support the Taunton Living Landscape Project, we have established a group of volunteers to carry out a range of practical conservation tasks, concentrating initially on Longrun Meadow. Meetings are normally Thursday morning starting at 10am at the Willow Cathedral and you can do as much or as little as you wish. Please email Helen Lawy if you would like further details.
Click here for a full update of Taunton Area Group's recent activities
We have a number of different events planned over the next few months
- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. An illustrated talk about fungi by Michael Jordan from the Association of British Fungal Groups Tuesday 10th October, 7.30pm, St George's School, The Mount, Taunton. TA1 3NR.
- West Country Buzz - Bumblebees in the Farmed Landscape. An illustrated talk by Cathy Horsley from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Tuesday 14th November, 7.30pm, St George's School, The Mount, Taunton. TA1 3NR.
- Going Wild in the Garden. An illustrated talk by Dr Anne & John Bebbington about the range of wildlife in a small garden on the edge of town. Tuesday 12th December, 7.30pm, St George's School, The Mount, Taunton. TA1 3NR.
- Wildlife of Devon - from Shore to Moor. An illustrated talk by John Walters on the wildlife of Devon. Tuesday 9th January 2018, 7.30pm, St George's School, The Mount, Taunton. TA1 3NR
- Somerset's Coast. An illustrated talk by Nigel Phillips about Somerset's coast and its relationship to the rest of the South-West. Tuesday 6th February, 7.30pm NB This is the FIRST Tuesday of the month, a change from our normal second Tuesday because of the availability of the School Hall. St George's School, The Mount, Taunton. TA1 3NR
- Snowdrop Open days. Come and see the wonderful display of Snowdrops and wander around this garden in the country but only a few miles from the centre of Taunton. Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th February, Higher Yarde Farm, Staplegrove, Taunton. TA2 6SW
- The role of a Wildlife Crime Officer. PC David Pepper will talk about his role as a Wildlife Crime Officer and the law and legislation involved. Tuesday 13th March, 7.30pm, St George's School, The Mount, Taunton, TA1 3NR.
- Taunton's forgotten watercourses. Francis Farr Cox unravels the history and mystery of where some of the watercourses around Taunton have disappeared or been diverted. Tuesday 10th April, 7.30pm, St George's School, The Mount, Taunton. TA1 3NR
Further details in the left hand column, now or shortly.
From time to time we organise walks around local Nature Reserves to help you to appreciate the beauty of the Somerset countryside all the year round. Every one is welcome but please be aware:
- These are rambles organised by the Taunton Area Group, not guided walks let by Wildlife Trust staff. We don't claim to be experts on wildlife so if you know a Blue Tit from a Buzzard or a Daisy from a Dandelion, your input on the walk will be much appreciated.
- Most of the footpaths on the Reserves are unmade, may be uneven and muddy and may also be steep in places. Please wear appropriate clothing and footwear.
- Car parking at most of the Reserves will be limited. If you know other people who are going on the walk, please share transport if that is possible. If you can car-share all the way to the Reserve that would be excellent but if not please consider meeting up part way and car-sharing for the rest of the journey.
If you really want to get your hands dirty as well, then contact the Taunton Midweek Volunteers who carry out a range of tasks on the SWT reserves in the area. Contact Margaret Palmer on 01823 337570 or email her at for further details. The Longrun Volunteers (see further details above) also provide an opportunity for a range of practical activities, close ot the centre of Taunton.
Younger wildlife enthusiasts may be interested in the Taunton Deane Wildlife Watch which provides a wide range of activities. Although these are aimed at families with children between 5 and 12, children of other ages are always welcome. Contact Perddeep Maan at ;
What else can we offer?
The Taunton Deane area has a small number of surprisingly varied sites, from the limestone scarp of Thurlbear to the lowland heath of Langford Heathfield managed by the Trust to give wildlife the protection it deserves. These reserves are right on our doorstep and are great places to enjoy and explore the wildlife and landscapes that we often take for granted. Click on the links below for more details of some of our closer reserves:
Langford Heathfield: (ST 106 227)There is much to explore at Langford Heathfield, Somerset Wildlife Trust's second largest nature reserve, at 226 acres. It is the reserve's varied landscape, which includes ancient woodland, heathland and ponds, that makes it a Mecca for such a variety of wildlife. For a sheet giving directions for a walk of one or two hours, click here.
Netherclay Community Woodland: (ST 207 252) Netherclay Community Woodland is a Taunton Deane Local nature Reserve which borders the River Tone in Bishops Hull. With support from the Forestry Commission and the help of the Parish council and local volunteers, 5000 native trees of oak, ash, black poplar, dogwood and hazel have been planted there. The Somerset Wildlife Trust has since bought the adjoining site and also planted it up with native trees.
Thurlbear Wood: (ST 273 213) At Thurlbear Wood you can enjoy walking the woodland paths dotted with colourful flowers, such as greater butterfly and spotted orchids, wild dog violets, bluebells and primroses. The wood takes in part of the circular Neroche Herepath, which starts at Staple Hill on the top of Somerset's famous Blackdown Hills.
Dommett Wood (ST 278 139) A reserve with mature beech and oak woodland with small areas of heath. Dommett Wood is close to Buckland St Mary, around half a mile off the A303, near the Eagle Tavern junction.
What areas does the Group cover?
The Group is based in Taunton but covers the whole of the Taunton Deane District Council area including Wellington, Wiveliscombe and Milverton.
Where does the Group meet?
During the winter months we meet on the second Tuesday of each month at St George's Primary School, The Mount, Taunton, TA1 3NR. Summer throws up different events so each year is very different.
How can I get in touch for more details?
To contact the Taunton Deane Area Group Chair, Simon Briggs, call 01823 270529 or use the Contact Form below.
All our local events are shown in the left hand column - just click the green links to find out more.