Somerset Wildlife Trust

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Somerset Wildlife Trust's focus on Somerset's coast given new sense of urgency with launch of new marine environment report

 3rd Nov 2017

Wildlife Trusts’ report highlights six key challenges to be addressed before the UK leaves the EU to ensure our living seas are given the protection they need


Wednesday 1st Nov – A recent report by the Wildlife Trusts, The Way Back to Living Seas, sets out a vision for our marine environment post Brexit. Somerset Wildlife Trust’s programme of work on the county’s 47 mile long coast, involving and inspiring people to learn about and protect this precious habitat alongside vital survey work is key to protecting our coastal future.


Whilst the EU Withdrawal Bill has stated that existing European protective measures for our seas will remain after we leave the EU, the report highlights that in the face of an extremely challenging future this will not be sufficient to safeguard the UK’s - and Somerset’s precious marine environments on their own.

CommonBrittleStar Minehead Jul2017matingShoreCrabs Watchet jul17jpg

The report’s key ask is for Regional Sea Plans that meet the needs of people and nature with six key aspects;

  • Involves people – Inspires and connects people with the sea
  • Minimises harm – Ends pollution, destructive fishing and unsustainable marine development
  • Restores nature – Recognises the value of the sea’s natural capital and commits to its recovery
  • Stays sustainable – Sets environmental limits for all activities at sea
  • Meets targets – Results in measurable Good Environmental Status in all seas
  • Plans long term – Uses an ecosystem-based approach, meeting the needs of current and future generations


Michele Bowe, Director of Conservation at Somerset Wildlife Trust says:


“This report comes at a crucial time for Somerset’s coast as it continues to come under increasing pressure from a range of external factors including climate change, rising sea levels, developing tidal and nuclear energy generation and increasing  development.  We must urgently collect more data and knowledge about what is here, so we can make the best conservation decisions going forwards. This is why we are undertaking a coastal survey of the entire inter-tidal habitat in the county. Huge decisions are being made about our precious coast almost in an information vacuum and this concerns us greatly so our survey work is critical. Also part of our mission is to ensure that the public, communities and groups across Somerset have a greater understanding of how brilliant our coast is – as the report says, human behaviour is key to enabling us to bring about the change that is needed to keep our seas healthy.”


For two years Somerset Wildlife Trust has helped develop the ‘Severn vision’ project which aims to achieve a magnificent estuary where nature is no longer being lost, but protected and restored and where coastal habitats help reduce climate change impacts and carbon emissions. The Trust will also focus on gaining the knowledge required to enable better decision making and stronger governance so future development is in harmony with nature.

Pictures: Ringed Plover©NigelPhillips, Common Brittlestar©NigelPhillips, Shorecrab©NigelPhillips