Somerset Wildlife Trust and the Diocese of Bath and Wells launch 'Wilder Churches'

Somerset Wildlife Trust and the Diocese of Bath and Wells launch 'Wilder Churches'

The joint initiative will support communities to make space for nature in their local churchyard and is set to enhance churchyard biodiversity across the county.

Somerset Wildlife Trust are delighted to be launching a brand new initiative in partnership with the Diocese of Bath & Wells called Wilder Churches. The initiative will see the two organisations come together to support communities to protect biodiversity in their local churchyard or other church land and work together to find ways to increase the value of these special places for wildlife.

Churchyards are often the oldest enclosed piece of land in a parish and many still support a rich variety of wildflowers and wildlife, having remained unscathed from the widespread loss of habitats seen in the wider countryside due to changing land management practices. Many churchyards support wildflower-rich grassland areas, ancient trees and other nooks and crannies that offer homes for invertebrates - food for birds, reptiles and mammals - and are home to many species of bat. Other churchyards, although ‘green’, support less biodiversity, but there is great potential to turn this around and help churchyards become special places for wildlife as well as for people.

Priddy churchyard

Pippa Rayner

The Diocese oversees 477 parishes of over 900,000 people, and they will be working with Somerset Wildlife Trust to bring communities and church leaders together to learn more about their churchyards and how they can manage them with wildlife in mind.  Key to the initiative is the ongoing support that will be provided to anyone and everyone interested in being involved. Launching later this month, regular, free online training sessions will support communities to take positive action at a pivotal time for nature.

Pippa Rayner, Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Engaging with Nature Coordinator is coordinating the initiative.

If we’re to reverse the loss of biodiversity across the UK and within the county, we need to secure a strong, county-wide network of green spaces that can provide homes for wildlife and corridors through which species can travel and expand. Through Wilder Churches, we hope local people will help ensure churchyards and other church land can contribute to that network.
Pippa Rayner
Engaging with Nature Coordinator

Sara Emmett, Assistant Diocesan Environment Officer explains, “With the diocese embracing a new environmental policy, we are delighted to be working together with Somerset Wildlife Trust to support church leaders and communities to increase the value of churchyards and other church land for wildlife.  By regularly getting together online to celebrate successes, share expertise and solve problems as they arise, we will collectively achieve so much more, so this is a really exciting initiative to be involved in.”

Pippa concludes, “Churchyards are really special and unique places, so we will be encouraging everyone to use the ‘3 Cs’ of consideration, consultation and communication at each step along the way. Initially, we will encourage people to simply find out what wildlife their local churchyard already has, as well as talking to everyone already involved in its management. Through the ongoing online training, we will then support communities to identify ways they could help wildlife in their local churchyard, as well as to communicate their ideas, consult others and come up with a plan that works for the church, wildlife and the community.”

Find out more about the initiative


The first training session, launching the initiative, is being held online on Wednesday 24 March from 19.00-20.30.

Everyone is welcome, so for more information or to book a place please click the button below. 

Book a spot

SWT and Diocese of Bath and Wells logo


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Photo: Caption

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

About Somerset Wildlife Trust –

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 20,000 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 1,700 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.

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 gifts in their wills. By working together with our members and supporters we really can make a difference.