Somerset's Living Coast

Living Landscape

Somerset's Living Coast

A nudibranch or sea slug (Edmundsella pedata) - Alexander Mustard/2020VISION

53 miles of coastline to explore
Home to internationally important birds
2nd highest tidal range in the world!
Vital fish nursery

About Somerset's Living Coast

Despite the amazing diversity of habitats and wildlife along Somerset’s fifty miles of coastline, it often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. This vibrant piece of coastline includes sand dunes, rocky shores, cliffs, salt marsh, tidal estuaries, mud flats and coastal deciduous woodland, with 80% having environmental protection.

The Severn Estuary is recognised as an internationally important wetland for its diversity of fish species and wintering wildfowl and there are four Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) designated for their rare plants, insects, overwintering and breeding birds and their history, heritage and geology. The Kilve to St Audries Bay coast is in the Quantock Hills AONB, and the western most part, a designated Heritage Coast, is in Exmoor National Park.

Over the coming decades, climate change, coastal development and an increase in tourism all pose threats to coastal and marine ecosystems. By encouraging local people to engage with and celebrate Somerset’s brilliant coast in a multitude of ways, we aim to help them better speak up for this crucial natural asset, protect it to minimise negative impacts and find ways to strengthen existing ecological networks so that wildlife can move and adapt to the challenges ahead.

Those that know it well, know that there are some incredible places on our coast for people to enjoy, which also provide secure homes for a whole variety of stunning wildlife
Mark Ward, Somerset's Brillant Coast Manager

Explore Living Coast projects

WildNet - James Rogerson

Somerset's Living Coast

Somerset's Brilliant Coast

This exciting three year project is delivering community engagement, education and volunteering initiatives across Somerset's coast that celebrate our fabulous coastal wildlife and encourage local communities and volunteers to explore and look after and value it. These initiatives not only benefit the local environment but will also benefit people’s health and wellbeing through nature connection and active participation.

The project has 3 strands: Curious Coast, Parish Shores and Wild Beach. 

Find out more
People surveying a rocky shore as part of Shoresearch

People surveying a rocky shore as part of Shoresearch - Gala Podgornik

Somerset's Living Coast

Shoresearch

Shoresearch is the Wildlife Trusts' national citizen science survey of intertidal shore - the exciting place where the sea meets the land. It's a great way to explore your local coast, learn more about the wildlife found there and add to our understanding of this important habitat.

Volunteers are trained through Shoresearch training sessions, to identify and record the wildlife on shores across the UK. The ecological data collected by this project helps experts to monitor our fragile sea life and better understand the effects of pollution, climate change and invasive alien species. Shoresearch data has been key to designating many of the UK’s new Marine Conservation Zones.

Learn more

Take a virtual tour of Somerset's coast

Whether you are preparing for a visit or are just curious about your coast,  there's lots to explore in our coastal Story Map

Discover Somerset's amazing coastline

Explore the shores. Using this map you can find points of interest, photographs, information and habitat data about the watery wonders that can found in the beautiful and varied habitats on our brilliant coast.

Get close to the coast

Stand up for your coast

There are lots of other ways you can get involved in standing up for your coastline. Find out more by clicking the drop-downs below. 

Coastal ambassadors

One of the outcomes of our Somerset’s Brilliant Coast project is to recruit, train and support key volunteers as Coastal Ambassadors from within coastal communities. They will become our ‘eyes and ears’ and help us to enhance local capacity to protect, enjoy and promote coastal heritage and help secure the legacy of the project.

If you would like to become a Coastal Ambassador for a section of the Somerset Coast that you either live close to or visit regularly, then please contact mark.ward@somersetwildlife.org Our ambassadors will become members of our Somerset Living Coasts group and part of the Trust’s wider volunteer network. They will be given training and access to expert advice and will be encouraged to run their own events, set up their own projects and to initiate fundraising activities for our wider coastal programme.

Sea Watch

Cetaceans are at risk due to continuous threats to them and their habitats, including capture and drowning in fishing gear, sound disturbance, marine pollution and over-fishing. The Bristol Channel has a resident population of harbour porpoises as well as being visited by various species of dolphin.

Sea Watch Foundation is a national charity working to improve the conservation and protection of whales, dolphins and porpoises. You can take part in its monitoring programme as volunteer observers through regular surveys along the coast organized by the Somerset Wildlife Trust. We also offer training by Sea Watch experts in how to carry out monitoring and surveying of this important group of sea mammals.

The information gathered by Sea Watch observers has been the primary source of knowledge about the relative status and distribution of cetacean around the British Isles.

Berrow Dunes surveying programme

Working in conjunction with the Berrow Conservation Group, the reserve manager and other local experts, Somerset Wildlife Trust has devised a series of monitoring programmes that run throughout the year covering Berrow Dunes Local Nature Reserve and SSSI. These include surveys of freshwater invertebrates, bats, bumble-bees, birds and rare plants. To get involved email:  mark.ward@somersetwildlife.org 

School coastal champions

There are plenty of reasons why cleaner beaches and seas and thriving coastal ecosystems are important to local communities, clubs and schools in Somerset.

Sometimes environmental issues and their long term impact can be hard to see. What we do know is that we can all make a positive difference to the natural environment that surrounds us and supports us if we work together to reduce our environmental impact. For example, we know that what we throw away, flush down the toilet and pour down our sinks can block drains and sewers allowing litter and sewage to enter the sea after heavy rainfall. This reduces the cleanliness of our coastal waters, destroys habitats and affects the bathing water quality for swimmers and water users.

By becoming a Somerset School Coastal Champion, you and your friends, your teachers and your school managers can work together to make a few simple changes to the way your school runs – embedding good practices like nature conservation, sustainable resource use and sound environmental policies into the heart of your school and the people that learn and play there to help create great coastal habitats and beaches that are full of wildlife, free from litter and with clean waters for even the youngest explorers to paddle in.

This scheme involves your school or club taking five simple steps on a journey to become a Somerset School Coastal Champion including picking a team to lead the process, investigating what can be done, setting yourselves tasks to improve things and sharing your achievements with others.

The scheme has been devised and is accredited by Somerset Wildlife Trust, Somerset’s Litter Free Coast & Sea  and Carymoor Environmental Trust

To find out more and sign your school or club up email: mark.ward@somersetwildlife.org

Plastic-free communities, schools & businesses

Surfers Against Sewage are creating a Plastic Free Community network across the UK to free where we live from the scourge of single-use plastic. It tackles avoidable single-use plastic, from the beach all the way back to the brands and businesses who create it.

Somerset Wildlife Trust is working with local SAS representatives, other partners, local schools and community groups, business and local authorities to achieve Plastic Free status for coastal towns and parishes in Somerset. It has been working with the Plastic Free Minehead & West Somerset group and plans to support other neighbouring communities on their own journeys. To find out more visit the Plastic Free Minehead & West Somerset Facebook page or email: mark.ward@somersetwildlife.org

David Bellamy award

The David Bellamy Conservation Awards run by the British Holiday & Home Parks Association is a scheme that champions holiday parks that are working to protect and enhance Britain’s environment. Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Brilliant Coast team are able to offer support and advice to any coastal holiday parks in Somerset who are applying for or are already part of this scheme. Contact Mark Ward by email: mark.ward@somersetwildlife.org

Events on Somerset's Living Coast

Join us to explore and learn about Somerset's coastline and its amazing wildlife. 

Contact our Living Coast team

Mark Ward

Mark Ward

Mark is a marine biologist and teacher with many year’s experience as an environmental educator with a particular interest in marine and coastal environments. He has run courses and supported community engagement projects for people of all ages and from diverse backgrounds and is always keen to share his passion and knowledge of our seas, oceans and shorelines to help people appreciate why it is so important to look after them. He is the project manager of Somerset’s Brilliant Coast project.

Contact: email mark.ward@somersetwildlife.org or call 01823 652400

Tilda Gibbs

Tilda Gibbs

Tilda is an outdoor and environmental educator. She has a background in working with school children and young people using programmes such as ‘Forest Schools’. She has recently been applying her skills in coastal environments mainly through the The Wildlife Trusts’ national Wild Beach schools programme. She is the project officer of Somerset’s Brilliant Coast project.

Contact: email
matilda.gibbs@somersetwildlife.org or call 01823 652400

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