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23 Mar 2021
Somerset Wildlife Trust is pleased to unveil its 2021 Somerset Nature Reserves Fund. Launched in 2016, the Fund exists to ensure the Trust can deliver the year round maintenance needed to safeguard the health of its nature reserves across the county, which costs about £2,000 a day. The Fund has inspired many people who care about the county’s precious landscapes and wildlife to donate, which makes a vital difference to the Trust’s ability to protect these precious and fragile habitats.
This year the Fund is particularly important as the Trust navigates its way through the uncertain economic climate, and after a year when its conservation volunteer teams have not be out to help manage its reserves as usual but many more local people have been visiting its reserves.
Katie Arber, Director of Fundraising & Marketing explains, “Our nature reserves provide a safe refuge for an enormous range of wildlife, including some exceptionally rare species. They are also really important wildlife habitats within Somerset’s nature recovery network – a matrix of connected healthy habitats across the county through which species can move and spread. They are so important as we look to tackle the decline in biodiversity and the continued impacts of climate change. It’s absolutely essential that we continue to raise funds to keep our nature reserves in good health.”
The Trust’s Reserve Managers are now starting another season’s habitat work without having been able to complete much of the work from the previous year, and this backlog doesn’t even include the vast amount of work required to manage the tragic effects of Ash Dieback. For most of the last year they have been without the support of their volunteers who they rely on to help manage our reserves, so the Trust has had to bring in contractors at considerable expense to help them keep on top of things.
Graeme Mitchell, Chair of Trustees, Somerset Wildlife Trust adds, “There’s never been a year where donations to our Somerset Nature Reserves Fund have been more vital. Our planned reserve management budgets simply weren’t designed to support the amount of additional costs we’re facing. Visitor numbers have almost doubled on our nature reserves during lockdown and, whilst it’s brilliant to see so many people out enjoying nature locally, of course more visitors mean more maintenance work, with wear and tear on paths, boardwalks, stiles and hides needing constant repair. We have also had to repair damage and deal with fly-tipping as a result of those few who don't treat our reserves with respect. We’re playing a massive game of catch up.
“We want to thank all our supporters for everything they’ve done to help the Trust in recent times. It’s hard to ask for help again but we need people to get behind us and support the Fund this year. We are committed to doing our best to maintain our nature reserves – for the wildlife that call them home, the wider ecology of the county, but also for everyone who lives, works and visits Somerset”.
To make a donation please go to somersetwildlife.org/naturereservesfund You can also donate securely by card by telephoning 01823 652429.
Fund unveiled to ensure nature reserves continue to play their role in reversing nature’s decline and provide resilient, connected landscapes for wildlife and people in the future