About the Somerset Levels & Moors
The Levels and Moors are an intricate managed landscape developed over centuries from the drainage and irrigation of land for agriculture and to manage flood risk. Land once exploited for salt and dug for peat over the centuries has since been transformed into a vibrant mosaic of land for agriculture and internationally renowned wetland nature reserves.
The area is one of Somerset’s most protected landscapes for biodiversity, principally: breeding wader populations, including the bittern; wintering waterfowl and waders; flower-rich wet grasslands; and rich invertebrate communities in the areas rivers, ditches and rhynes. Given its height above sea level, it is also a landscape that is extremely vulnerable to climate change, so water management is at the centre of our work here.
The magical mix of the area’s history, heritage, culture, people and wildlife results in an almost visceral connection to the land as soon as you step onto the Levels. There’s nowhere else quite like it. Those that live and work here go about their daily lives totally in tune with the natural rhythms of this unique and special place.
Explore Levels & Moors projects
At the heart of the Somerset Levels and Moors, lies a beautiful, internationally renowned area called the Avalon Marshes, which incorporates two of our most popular reserves; Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve and Catcott Nature Reserve. The Avalon Marshes is not only one of the finest remaining lowland wetlands left in Britain,but is also a critical home for vulnerable wetland bird populations such as the Bittern, and is an internationally important overwintering site for tens of thousands of ducks and waders.
Somerset Wildlife Trust is currently planning a major fundraising campaign to enable it to buy Honeygar Farm from the Esmee Fairburn Foundation by early 2023. Honeygar Farm is located between the Trust’s Westhay Moor NNR, Westhay Heath and Catcott nature reserves in the Avalon Marshes, one of the largest and most important wetland areas in the UK.
Adapting the Levels
Somerset is on the frontline of the climate crisis in the UK. As the climate crisis worsens, sea levels look set to rise over one metre and peak river flows are expected to double by 2100. These levels will over-top current flood and sea defences, leaving communities and businesses vulnerable to widespread and repeated flooding. The Adapt the Levels project is working with policy makers, infrastructure experts, landowners, farmers and communities to jointly develop adaptation plans to ensure the Levels are ready to cope with future threats brought about by climate change.
Wetland LIFE is a nationwide, three year university-led project, funded by a number of UK research councils. It is working in the Somerset Levels to carry out a range of ecological and cultural research which aims to support the development of better wetland assessment tools for use by wetland site managers across the country. Our Westhay Moor reserve has been chosen as a study site as they provide examples of land use change in a rural setting, having been reverted into wetlands from agriculture and peat extraction, as well as having a rich history and vibrant recreational use.
Somerset Eel Project
Their life cycle is complicated, they can magically transform in size, shape and colour, have one of the longest migration journeys on the planet (during which they don’t eat!), and can grow to over a metre in length. These snake-like freshwater fish are hidden heroes in our Somerset waterways that play a critical role in our ecosystem, providing food for wetland birds and mammals.
Thanks to £94,000 funding from European Marine Fisheries Fund, with support from the Sustainable Eel Group (SEG), we have been working to ensure that these incredible animals can continue to find safe refuge in our county’s wetland habitats before their epic migration back to their breeding grounds.
Humans of the Levels
A picture of the Somerset Levels, one story at a time
Humans of New York’s goal was to photograph everyday New Yorkers, and record their quotes and short stories. This Facebook page now has over 20 million followers, and provides glimpses into the lives of strangers on the streets of New York City. Somerset Wildlife Trust is doing the same for the people of the Somerset Levels. The vision is to build a community on Facebook, to create a picture of the Somerset Levels, one story at a time and in telling those stories we hope people can better understand the area so they can protect it in the future.
Explore Levels & Moors reserves
Explore our reserves on the Levels & Moors and experience some of the county's most spectacular wetlands, beautiful landscapes and amazing wildlife.
Events happening in the area
There's some amazing events that help you experience and explore some of the areas most magical places.
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Who are we:
Senior Reserves Manager for Brue Valley
Policy and Campaigns Manager
Climate Change Adaptation Officer