Somerset Wildlife Trust are delighted to announce that they have been awarded a total of £43,890 by Viridor Credits Environmental Company for work at their Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve on the Avalon Marshes.
The funds will help improve access and visitor facilities at this award-winning, internationally acclaimed wetland reserve, including upgrading its carpark and creating a boardwalk area as you enter the reserve.
The new boardwalk will allow people to see wildlife firsthand and connect to nature quickly and positively, without having to travel further into the reserve. The boardwalk will also deliver a better visiting experience for those with limited mobility, particularly people using wheelchairs or pushchairs. Improvements to the carpark, such as restructuring and resurfacing, will also make accessing the reserve easier and safer for visitors.
Rachael Fickweiler, Head of Nature Reserves and Land Management says, “It’s really important to us that everyone has the chance to experience the joy of the county’s special wildlife and can connect to the natural world in their day-to-day lives.”
“Connecting with nature has been found to improve physical and mental health and wellbeing, helping us to relax and develop a wide appreciation of wildlife and the natural world upon which we depend - particularly as healthy wetlands make a vital contribution to managing the effects of a changing climate. We hope that the new features will encourage more people to visit when is safe to do so.”
Mark Blake, Brue Valley Reserves Manager, says “Westhay Moor is an internationally acclaimed wetland reserve, hosting graceful great white egrets, majestic marsh harriers and rare specialised plants like the round-leaved sundew. Hearing the boom of a bittern or watching a darting dragonfly are magical experiences which we hope that more people will now be able to experience on our reserve, regardless of physical ability or mobility.”
“Thanks to this funding, hopefully people who previously felt deterred from visiting due to having to venture a long way into the reserve on uneven terrain to experience nature, will feel more welcome, and will be able to enjoy the natural wonders of Westhay Moor more easily.”
Alison Salvador, General Manager at Viridor Credits, says, “Congratulations to Somerset Wildlife Trust and all the volunteers at their Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve on securing this award from the Landfill Communities Fund. Providing quality community space for everyone to enjoy and improving habitats for wildlife are two of the main aims of the LCF and this project will do both. The local Funding Group did not hesitate to award almost £50,000 to support this vital work. The Viridor Credits team and Board are immensely proud to be associated with this organisation and its continuing efforts to improve biodiversity and access for everyone wanting to enjoy the great outdoors and the local wildlife. We look forward to seeing the finished works and the reserve being used by visitors of all kinds in the near future.”
More about Westhay
Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve is one of the jewels in the crown of Somerset Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves, part of the award-winning Avalon Marshes area on the Somerset Levels. Reclaimed from the remnants of industrial-scale peat extraction, and home to one of the largest surviving remnant of lowland acid mire in the South West, it is a mecca for wildlife all year round, but particularly in the Spring when Bittern can be heard booming. Tens of thousands of overwintering birds also make this special reserve their home each year. You can find 7 of the 9 UK breeding herons at Westhay, as well as fabulous resident populations of wetland birds, otters, numbers of dragonflies and also raptors such as Hobbies, Marsh Harriers, Peregrines and the odd Hen Harrier.
In August 2019, Somerset Wildlife Trust successfully raised enough funds to purchase and restore a vital 11-acre piece of land adjacent to their Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve in the Avalon Marshes. The sale and restoration are still in progress, having been held up due to poor weather conditions over the winter, and now the Covid-19 pandemic.
Work is expected to start on the reserve’s carpark and new boardwalk in August and September, dependent on lockdown measures.