Brue Valley - Lynne Newton
In ancient times this landscape was entirely under water
The beautiful Somerset Levels and Moors are some of the lowest, flattest areas in Britain. In ancient times this landscape was entirely under water; today the area is a highly valuable wetland of international conservation importance.
Somerset Wildlife Trust’s 50-year vision is that the wildlife of the Brue Valley is enhanced and capable of sustaining itself in the face of climate change, and that communities within the area are thriving and benefit from a healthy natural environment.
Virtual tour by Mike McFarlane
This scheme will restore and re-create areas of wetland habitats, and will examine different possible hydrological regimes and their potential effects on land use and the natural environment.
It focuses on two of Somerset Wildlife Trust’s key nature reserves in the Brue Valley: Westhay Moor and the Catcott Complex. These two nationally important sites welcome more than 36,000 visitors each year and have featured on a variety of wildlife programmes.
Westhay is the largest piece of remnant lowland mire (peat bog) in the South West and both Westhay and Catcott create a dymanic mosaic of Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) habitats, including floodplain grazing marsh, lowland meadow, purple moor grass and rush pasture, reedbed and wet woodland.
Mapping and research to enable a Local Vision for the Brue Valley
- A baseline habitat map of the project area and a partnership-agreed opportunities map planning the creation of a Living Landscape
- Climate change and socio-economic research investigating drivers for change and adaption opportunities in the project area over the next 50 years
An engaged community working towards a shared Local Vision for the project area
- Volunteers help with habitat surveying, monitoring, habitat management, and events
- A Living Landscape message delivered through education on reserves and on events and guided walks
- A conservation message delivered to all landowners in the project area
Larger and better-connected patches of habitat
- Excellent management of nature reserves; targeted land acquisition and restoration of the most strategically important pieces of land
- Advisory work and grant applications with private landowners
Management of wildlife habitats is linked in to the wider economy and rural society
- Development of farm systems that can deliver nature conservation.
- Research that demonstrates the value of ecosystem services and the links between nature conservation and the rural economy
- Investigation of new mechanisms for delivering environmental conservation such as payment for ecosystem services
Start date: 2009
Scheme area: 12,000 hectares
Trust reserves within the scheme: Tealham & Tadham, Burtle Moor, Chilton Moor, Catcott Complex, Westhay Moor NNR and Street Heath
This scheme is helping species including water vole, otter, skylark, wildfowl and waders, the endangered shining ram’s horn snail, southern marsh orchid.
Current threats to the landscape include the end of the Levels and Moors ESA (and associated threats from intensive agriculture), peat extraction, innapropriate water levels and climate change
- This scheme is also helping wildlife adapt to climate change, improving water quality, storing carbon, reducing soil erosion, providing habitat for pollinating insects, improving access for people, providing recreational opportunities, encouraging green tourism and providing health benefits, employment opportunities, volunteering opportunities, skills training and environmental education.
Natural England, Environment Agency, RSPB, Local Authorities, Internal Drainage Board.