Farming and Wildlife Organisations Team Up to Support Farmers and Other Land Managers Across Somerset

Farming and Wildlife Organisations Team Up to Support Farmers and Other Land Managers Across Somerset

Farming and wildlife organisations team up to support farmers and other land managers to increase farm business resilience whilst delivering what nature and people need for a sustainable future.

Joint press release from FWAG SouthWest, Mendip District Council, Mendip Hills AONB Service, Mendip Hills Facilitation Group, the National Farmers Union, Selwood Forest Facilitation Group and Somerset Wildlife Trust:


Partners from FWAG SouthWest, Mendip District Council, Mendip Hills AONB Service, Mendip Hills Facilitation Group, the National Farmers Union, Selwood Forest Facilitation Group and Somerset Wildlife Trust have come together to offer a free programme of workshops on sustainable land management for farmers and land managers across Somerset.

The workshops will aim to help land managers and partners alike better understand the opportunities, different perspectives and issues involved in a variety of approaches to sustainable land management. Key to this will be time at each workshop for discussion, with attendees encouraged to share their own experiences and ideas, and together begin to identify ways to bring about positive change across landholdings and landscapes in Somerset.

The sessions will explore subjects such as Natural Capital, Natural Flood Management, soil health and herbal leys, workshops will also look at the technologies, funding (including green financing and available grants) and support available to achieve farm business goals sustainably. Information will be provided by specialist speakers, including land managers with first-hand experience, as well as relevant industry speakers such as those working in different areas of green financing.

Farmer stood with flock of sheep

Mendip Hills AONB service

At a time of climate and ecological emergency, the way land is managed by farmers and other landowners/managers will play a substantial role in turning this around. This urgent need for change comes at a time when land, and land managers, are under multiple and substantial pressures on a local, national and global level. Sustainable land management for nature, people and climate will need support at all levels, with everyone having their role to play.

Farm clusters in Somerset, including in Selwood Forest and the Mendip Hills, have already begun this process, by sharing experience and exploring different approaches to help deliver benefits for nature, climate and people.

Paul Morgan, who is a member of the Mendip Hills Facilitation Group says:

“We understand the unique characteristics of the Mendips and want to farm this special landscape sustainably, continuing age-old grazing regimes that benefit nature. We are proud of our products and look to how we can continue our farm business with sustainability right through its production to consumption in local markets.”

Alix Zelly, Somerset Wildlife Trusts’ Farm Cluster Facilitator, adds:

“By joining forces across organisations, we are able to coordinate this programme of workshops to bring together farmers, other land managers, organisations and specialist speakers, to increase understanding of sustainable land management approaches, and start to explore what can work to deliver a sustainable future for people and nature in Somerset.”

All the workshops are free to attend and are offered at a variety of locations on-farm, in communities and online. Booking is essential with the programme designed so that land managers can book onto as many or few workshops as they like.

It is hoped that further sessions will be added to the programme as it progresses, particularly where land managers express an interest in a particular aspect of sustainable land management, so the partners ask that anyone interested keep an eye on the event programme for future events and get in touch if you have ideas on topics or speakers to share.

For more details on how to book your place(s) visit  A printed flyer is also available outlining all the key booking details, including how to book a place/s by phone (contact Jacob Hall on 07870 581655 at Mendip District Council who can post one to you).

If you are interested to hear more about the work of farm cluster groups in Somerset and how to get involved in your local area, please call Alix Zelly, Somerset Wildlife Trust on 07517910090.

Editor's Notes

Partners and Funding

This programme of workshops is organised in partnership by FWAG SouthWest, Mendip District Council, Mendip Hills AONB Service, Mendip Hills Facilitation Group, National Farmers Union, Selwood Forest Facilitation Group and Somerset Wildlife Trust.

Our work is supported by various funding sources: Defra via the Mendip Hills Facilitation Fund, Selwood Forest Facilitation Fund and the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme; funding through the Mendip Wildlife Links project (via a section 106 agreement between Aggregate Industries and Somerset County Council); Somerset Rivers Authority and Mendip District Council.


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


Please contact each partner directly to enquire further regarding each partner-led event. The Lead Contact points are as follows:

Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (South West):
Mendip Hills AONB Service:
Mendip District Council:
National Farmers Union:
Somerset Wildlife Trust:

Somerset Wildlife Trust

Somerset Wildlife Trust is a nature conservation charity. Its purpose is to restore and protect the populations of species across the county and the habitats they call home. Climate change is one of the greatest threats to nature, natural habitats and the ecosystems that support our life on earth.  Our aims are to help address both the ecological and climate crises and put nature back into people’s lives.

Nature reserves and protected sites on their own are not enough. In order to reverse the decline in species’ diversity and abundance, and create resilient landscapes and habitats for wildlife and for people that can adapt to climate change, we need to:

  • encourage and support landowners to manage their land positively for nature; create more space for nature;
  • connect wildlife-rich spaces across the wider landscape to create a robust Nature Recovery Network for Somerset; and
  • create a movement of people – at least 1 in 4 – that take action for nature’s recovery across Somerset as part of Team Wilder.

This is at the core of our new 10-year strategy. Nationally the Wildlife Trusts are calling for at least 30% of land to be managed positively for nature by 2030. What we do in Somerset must contribute to that national ambition. You can read our full 10 year strategy, Wilder Somerset here.

FWAG SouthWest

The Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group SouthWest (FWAG SouthWest) is a registered charity representing the region’s farmers and landowners in the delivery of wildlife conservation.

FWAG was first established as a charity in the 1960s by a group of forward-thinking farmers who saw that the environment was an important part of a successful farming business.

For over 50 years, FWAG SW has been providing independent advice and has been delivering real change on farmland by working with land managers and landowners across the region. Combining an understanding of farming systems, land management and farm businesses with habitat creation, habitat management and species conservation, FWAG SW is able to effect positive environmental change in the wider landscape.

We also focus on helping farm businesses manage their natural capital assets like soil, water and carbon. FWAG SW specialises in shaping government policy, environmental incentives, regulations and making emerging environmental markets accessible for farmers and land managers at a practical delivery level.

FWAG SouthWest is also part of the FWAG Association, an umbrella organisation under which many of the independent FWAG organisations across the country can join together to help influence government policy relating to the delivery of farmland environmental conservation.

Mendip District Council

Mendip District Council is serious about tackling climate change. We believe in actions, not words.

On 25 February 2019, we declared a climate emergency. We made a commitment to take care of the environment and lead the way for Mendip to become carbon neutral by 2030.

One of our key corporate priorities is ‘delivering on our climate and ecological commitment’. We’ve signed the UK100 Net Zero Pledge to share knowledge, collaborate and, along with other local authorities, petition the UK Government with our collective power. And we were proud to have been recognised by the campaign group Climate Emergency UK as a Top Ten ranking District Council in a recent national poll.

The Mendip Hills AONB Unit and 50th Anniversary

In 1972, the announcement was made that the Mendip Hills would be designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), recognising the landscape as one of England’s finest and worthy of national protection. The AONB team are planning a series of exciting activities throughout the year to help people share their love for the area in recognition of the 50th Anniversary.

Covering 77 square miles (198 km²), the Mendip Hills AONB includes the spectacular Cheddar Gorge over to the tranquil lakes of the Chew Valley. Not only is it one of England’s special landscapes, for its geology and natural habitat, it also provides millions of people across Bristol, Bath and Somerset with exceptional outdoor and underground adventure – not to mention a regular supply of fresh water.  

Fifty large trees are being planted, fifty special stones will be embedded in the walls, memories of the past and hopes for the future will be captured on film, the fifty miles of the iconic Mendip Way connecting Weston Super Mare with Frome, will bring people together, and a celebration of the unique geology will take place at the end.

Visit and sign up to the newsletter to be the first to hear how you can celebrate the special Mendip Hills AONB as the programme details become available.

The National Farmers Union

The NFU is the voice of British farming, providing professional representation and services to more than 46,000 farming and growing businesses.