12th July 2018 - To raise awareness of how Somerset is uniquely vulnerable to many aspects of climate change, through rising sea levels and storm events. The Somerset Federation of the WI and Somerset Wildlife Trust held a combined event during the Climate Coalition’s ‘Speak Up Week’ (30th June to 8th July 2018), which is designed to bring people together across the UK to express their concerns about the impacts of climate change, and highlight where communities could be at risk if people don’t work together and take action now.
The WI and the Trust proudly displayed bunting across two of Somerset Wildlife Trust’s reserves to raise awareness of how these areas are at risk of climate change: Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve on the levels and moors and Cook’s Field Reserve in the Mendip Hills.
This was no ordinary bunting however – it was made by the Somerset WI members as part of the Climate Coalition’s “Green Hearts” Campaign. 4000 WI members in Somerset produced 185.5m of bunting; - the equivalent to the length of two football pitches – which had individual hearts with views of why climate change is important to each member personally. Members’ concerns included, the decline of wildlife species, the health of our green spaces, and the potential of food shortages.
Steve Mewes, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Somerset Wildlife Trust says:
“Somerset’s Levels and Moors are particularly vulnerable to climate change, as was painfully shown in the 2013/14 floods. And, even areas on higher ground will be affected, like at the Trust’s Cook’s Field reserve, as winters become warmer hibernation of much-loved Somerset species such as the dormouse and hedgehog will be disrupted. This very special bunting reminds us quite poignantly of how much people value nature in Somerset and how engaged they are in championing its protection.
“Nature can be part of the answer and the trust fully supports natural flood management techniques. These help to build resilience on the Levels through often more traditional farming practices, enabling houses to be protected, farmland to stay productive and nature to thrive without disturbing the precious peat which, if wet and un-disturbed, helps reduce climate change emissions.”
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Notes to editors:
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 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. 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.
About the WI
The WI has been campaigning on issues important to women and their families since 1918 (see https://www.thewi.org.uk). It has more than 200,000 nationwide members and is not only effective in raising awareness of current issues amongst members and their families, but also has a history of bringing about change in the wider community. The WI has been campaigning to raise awareness of climate change since 2005.
About The Climate Coalition
The Climate Coalition, with 15 million members, is the UK’s largest group working to raise awareness of climate change. It was established in 2005 and both the WI and SWT were founding members. Reaching across the UK to protect communities, infrastructure and our natural world, the climate coalition asks politicians to put aside their differences and commit to doing whatever is necessary to minimise the impacts of climate change.