Somerset Wildlife Trust

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Somerset's Big Give Christmas Challenge launches to protect the county's herons

 20th Nov 2018

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Tuesday 20th November 2018 – Somerset Wildlife Trust’s project ‘Homes for Herons’ has been selected to take part in The Big Give Christmas Challenge – the UK’s biggest online match funding campaign -  which helps charities raise funds for good causes during a week-long campaign.

The Big Give Christmas Challenge campaign runs between midday on Tuesday 27th November and midday on 4th December online. All online donations given to Homes for Herons in this week will be matched by generous third party pledgers. If we reach the £10,750 target online, this will bring the total raised in one week to £21,500 -  an amount which will have a lasting impact on the future of heron species in Somerset.

An incredible 7 species of heron now live on the Avalon Marshes, when 40 years ago there were just 2 species across the whole of the UK. However, the future of this diverse family of birds is far from secure, and without careful habitat management, these majestic birds will not be able to thrive.

If successful, the project ‘Homes for Herons’ will help fund vital improvements to heron habitats on SWT’s Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve, for example structured reed cutting, and provide better access to the more remote areas of its reserves. Monitoring is also crucial to identify successful breeding pairs, as well as continuously review heron populations. The use of new technology, such as cameras that can blend into reedbeds, will allow this with much lower levels of disturbance. This footage will also allow us to share our findings and the joys of the Avalon Marshes and its heron populations with those who cannot visit themselves.

It is hoped that this work will increase the chance of breeding success for both newer heron arrivals like the Black-crowned Night Heron and Great White Egret, as well as more established heron species.

Mark Blake, Senior Reserves Manager at our Avalon Marshes reserves says:

“The Avalon Marshes are not only one of the finest remaining lowland wetlands in Britain but are internationally important for the amazing species you can find here. The rare herons like Bittern, Great White Egret and Night Heron that are living and breeding here are only found in a few places in Britain, so it is vital that we can continue to provide their ideal habitat. The Big Give Christmas Challenge is an amazing opportunity to support and protect a truly special place and ensure the incredible birds that live there continue to call Somerset home  – your donation will literally make double the difference so please give what you can.”

More information and how to give

For more information about the Big Give Christmas Challenge and to give a donation (between 27th November and 4th December) that will have twice the impact – please go to our page here.  Here you will find information about our ‘Homes for Herons’ project. Our project page on the Big Give website can be found here, where you can make a donation. Thank you so much for your generosity!



For interviews and further information please contact Kirby Everett on 01823 652413 or email: or Beccy Willmetts on 01823 652414 or


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Images are attached for use with this news release.  They are granted on a one-time use basis, in association with this release and the photographer must be credited. More images available on request.


About Somerset Wildlife Trust –

Somerset’s wildlife is part of what makes living, working and visiting the county so special. Somerset Wildlife Trust has been protecting vulnerable wildlife and preserving Somerset’s wild places for over 50 years and, with over 18,000 members, is the largest conservation charity in the county.  Alongside our members and volunteers we work year round to protect wildlife, transform landscapes and put nature back into people’s lives. 

Our reserves holding of over 1700 hectares incorporates a diverse range of habitats from wetlands to woodlands, grasslands and meadows, and provide secure environments for a diverse range of wildlife such as Dormice, Otters, Hedgehogs, Barn Owls and many other species - as well as providing safe havens for some of Somerset’s most iconic species such as Bittern and Large Blue butterfly.

The majority of our work is made possible through the support of our members and people who live and work in the county who choose to make donations, fundraise for us or leave generous legacies. By working together with our members and supporters we really can make a difference.