Monday 18th March 2019 – Somerset Wildlife Trust is excited to unveil the Somerset Nature Reserves Fund 2019. The Fund, which has been running annually since its launch in 2016, has raised an incredible £100,000 to date – all of which has been reinvested into maintaining the basic underlying health of all of the Trusts nature reserves across the county. The Fund has since inspired many who care about the county’s precious landscapes to make donations, which have made a vital difference to the Trust’s ability to keep these special places secure for the next generation and to safeguard some of our most precious wildlife and fragile habitats.
The day-to-day running costs and maintenance of the Trust’s 1,700 hectares of land, added up to £733,175 in the 2017/18 financial year – that’s around £2,000 a day. The day-to-day maintenance work on reserves is supported by dedicated teams of volunteers, overseen by only eight permanent members of reserves staff across the whole county, but specialist contractors are also needed regularly for work that cannot be done by Trust staff or volunteers. Ensuring staff and volunteers have the right equipment and training to develop their skills for the long-term benefit of the reserves is also crucial. The Somerset Nature Reserves Fund is a vital way to raise funds to ensure that the Trust can continue this work each year.
And this year, raising funds is more important than ever. EU agri-environment scheme funding made up over 20% of the Trust’s total income last year, but is set to disappear once we leave the EU. What might replace these schemes and the timescales for their introduction are unclear, but the charity could be faced with an enormous gap in the funds to keep its reserves – the very cornerstones of its conservation efforts – in good health.
In addition, its mosaic of special reserves are also under threat from the unusual weather conditions being experienced or disease. Torrential rain in 2017 washed away pathways, and 2018’s heatwave brought water management issues. We also have the added ongoing challenge of dealing with ash dieback on many of our woodland reserves, meaning that more than ever, the Trust needs to ensure it has the resources to cope with unexpected challenges and uncertain times ahead.
Rachael Fickweiler, Head of Nature Reserves said “We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone that has supported our Nature Reserves Fund in the last three years – it has made an incredible difference to our work. We hope that once again people will get behind us and support us again this year. We are committed to doing our best to maintain our nature reserves – for the wildlife that call them home, the wider ecology of the county, but also for everyone who lives in, works in and visits Somerset. There is a clear link between access to nature and health and wellbeing, so it is vital that both people and wildlife can continue to benefit from everything these special places have to offer, both now and in the future.”
If you would like to donate, you can do so here.
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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About Somerset Wildlife Trust – www.somersetwildlife.org
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 19,000 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. These habitats also connect green spaces across the county so wildlife can travel, and are the bedrock upon which we are able to deliver key conservation programmes across the year.
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.