Mendip woodlands and wildflowers get a funding boost

Wood spurge - Paul Lane

Somerset Wildlife Trust are excited to announce a new project with Aggregate Industries (AI), working to create, enhance and restore species-rich grasslands and woodlands in the Mendip area.

Thanks to a £22,000 grant from The Wildlife Trusts and AI Partnership Fund, the Mendip Woodlands and Wildflowers project will help provide better connected, high quality habitats for wildlife on SWT reserves and AI-owned land. As a part of this, local people and AI staff will be invited to volunteer, helping to clear scrub, restore calcareous grasslands, and plant trees on species-poor grassland. These trees will, in time, develop into a woodland, supporting nature and acting as part of a natural solution to climate change.

The project will focus on enhancing calcareous grassland habitat at Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Cheddar Wood Nature Reserve in West Mendip; and creating and enhancing woodland in East Mendip, including Norwood Local Wildlife Site, Monk Wood Local Wildlife Site and land adjacent to AI’s Torr Quarry. This project will also fund information boards at Norwood Fields Local Wildlife Site, Shute Tip and the reservoir close to East Cranmore, to engage and inform people about the amazing wildlife habitats in their areas.

We hope that through this project, both local people and AI staff will get the chance to learn more about the woodland and wildflower habitats found in Mendip and gain new skills in practical conservation. The project will provide opportunities to spend some time outside and help manage sites near to where people live and work, which they may not have previously explored. It wouldn’t be possible do this work without our many hard-working volunteers; we will be very grateful for any willing helpers!
Lila Morris
Mendip Conservation Officer at Somerset Wildlife Trust

More detail on activity

Common blue butterfly

Common blue butterfly - Chris Lawrence

At Cheddar Wood Nature Reserve, work will be carried out to remove some areas of scrub species such as bramble which can outcompete the specialist limestone grassland plants if left to flourish. These grassland plants support a variety of pollinators including bees and butterflies. We will welcome the help of local people and AI staff to clear sensitive areas by hand in order to benefit local wildlife.

In addition to this, fencing will be replaced and repaired at Cheddar Wood, to allow conservation grazing to continue. Cattle can help keep the scrub species at a lower level and allow a diversity of plants to thrive.

Herb Paris

Herb Paris - Philip Precey

In East Mendip, habitat restoration work will focus around AI’s Torr Quarry. At Norwood Local Wildlife site, coppicing and the removal of invasive and fast-growing cherry laurel will allow more light down to the woodland floor. This will help to regenerate the rich woodland ground flora found at the site, including uncommon species like Herb Paris, Solomon’s-seal and Wood Spurge.

Yellow archangel

Yellow archangel - Vaughn Matthews

At Monk Wood Local Wildlife Site, coppicing work will be also be undertaken in the northern section of the wood, which is owned by AI.

This woodland was previously coppiced for charcoal around 15-20 years ago and supports many wildflowers. However, as the coppiced areas have continued to grow, these woodland ground flora species such as Red Currant, Herb Paris and Yellow Archangel are at risk of being shaded-out. Opening up the woodland canopy by carrying out this coppicing work again will help to allow these wildflowers to flourish once more.

Somerset Wildlife Trust and Aggregate Industries are also very excited to be creating a new woodland area with local people and AI staff. Over four volunteer sessions run by Somerset Wildlife Trust staff and AI’s Biodiversity and Restoration Adviser, Simon Wiltshire, we aim to plant 700 trees.

Somerset Wildlife Trust hopes to encourage planting native trees on suitable species-poor sites, to not only provide great wildlife habitat, but to help meet climate change targets.

More information about the tree planting sessions will be available on our website soon, and we encourage people to get involved in this fun and rewarding volunteer task, suitable for all ages.

If you’re interested in getting involved with the scrub clearance or tree planting in the Mendip area, please keep an eye on our event pages for more information.