What's it all about?
The Great Somerset Wildlife Count is a new community science initiative delivered in partnership with the Trust's environmental records centre, SERC. It aims to monitor changes in both the diversity (the variety) of species we have and, more importantly, the abundance (the quantity) of wildlife species we have across the county. This in turn helps us track the health of the ecosystems that exist to support them (and us), which are coming under increasing pressure from changes in our climate.
Did you know that SERC currently hold over 3 million data records? The majority however are about protected or rare species mostly within higher quality habitats. There's a real gap in our knowledge about how the more 'common' species are doing on a wider scale across the county. At the moment, we can’t tell with any real, data-driven certainty what's happening to species we perceive as still being relatively abundant, such as blackbirds or frogs for example - and that's a real concern
There's a phrase that describes that concern - shifting baselines. It's where over time, knowledge is lost about the natural world and as a result our perception of nature or species decline becomes more and more out of sync with the reality of the situation. For example - do you remember a time when you used to see stag beetles regularly? They're now a much rarer sight.
The Great Somerset Wildlife Count will help us ensure that we don't miss important wildlife trends, and can identify ways to protect species before we lose them forever. With you as our eyes and ears on the ground, collecting and feeding in important wildlife data and information, we'll know where we need to create even stronger links in our county-wide nature recovery network to provide habitats and green spaces for all. All of this data will also be fed into a new online platform called the Somerset State of Nature, which will ensure that county-led decisions can be made with wildlife in mind.
Watch out for news on the next count this Autumn.
How does it work?
There'll be four counts a year, each of which will take place over one whole weekend and focus on a small group of chosen species that we need to monitor. We plan to do a 'bumper' count in Spring.
What do you do?
- Download the PDF guide onto your mobile device if you need to to remind yourself of the six species to look for
- During the count period (usually a weekend) record the species you manage to spot in that time
- Tell us where you were when you saw them, and how many of each species you saw here
- You can record the location any way you like - drop a Google pin, use a Grid Reference, use what3words or just enter a normal address
- That's it - you’re done!
Let us know what you find on social by tagging @SomersetWT and @somersetERC and using the hashtag #greatsomersetwildlifecount when out on your travels!