Somerset's Living Coast
Somerset Wildlife Trust’s vision for our Living Coast is of a landscape and seascape celebrated for the immense richness of its habitats and wildlife. Engaged and aware coastal communities are a vital to ensuring we work with nature to develop new solutions to protect our maritime environment in the face of increasing threats.
Somerset’s fifty miles of brilliantly diverse, coastline includes sand dunes, rocky shores, cliffs, salt marsh, tidal estuaries mud flats and coastal deciduous woodland. Around 80% has environmental protection. The Severn Estuary is recognised as an internationally important wetland for its diversity of fish species and assemblages of wintering wildfowl. There are four Sites of Special Scientific Interest (Brean Down, Berrow Dunes, Bridgwater Bay and Blue Anchor to Lilstock) designated for their rare plants, insects, overwintering and breeding birds and their history, heritage and geology. The Kilve to St Audries Bay coast is in the Quantock Hills AONB, and the western most part, a designated Heritage Coast, is in Exmoor National Park.
Despite all these designations the popular perception of the Somerset coast is of muddy shores dominated by a nuclear power station and bookended by holiday camps. This could lead to it being undervalued and in turn contribute to increasing and unchallenged development pressure.
Over the coming decades, climate change, coastal development and an increase in tourism all pose threats to coastal and marine ecosystems. By encouraging local people to engage with and celebrate Somerset’s brilliant coast in a multitude of ways, we aim to help local them better speak up for this crucial natural asset and protect it to minimise negative impacts, finding ways to strengthen existing ecological networks so that wildlife can move and adapt to the challenges ahead.