Mendip Hills. Photo by Steve Bond
aiming to restore, link and re-create wildlife habitat
Somerset Wildlife Trust
Rising sharply out of the flat landscape of the Somerset Levels and Moors, the Mendips are a range of low-lying limestone hills located to the southwest of Bristol in northern Somerset.
The western part of the Mendips comprises classic limestone karst scenery with cave systems, steep-sided gorges, swallets (points where surface water can drain underground), dry valleys and underground rivers. In contrast, the eastern Mendips comprise a gentler countryside with rolling hills, wooded valleys and extensive hedgerows, more reminiscent of other parts of Somerset.
The aim of the Mendip Hills Living Landscape Project is to restore, link and re-create wildlife habitat across more than 13,000 hectares, stretching from the M5 to Wells. The intention is to create a wildlife-rich landscape, celebrated by communities and visitors alike and robust enough to cope with climate change and land-use change.
Virtual tour by Mike McFarlane
We continue to work at joining up these wildlife-rich sites. Habitat creation schemes, in collaboration with land holders, are increasing the amount of calcareous grassland, heathland and species-rich meadow. Where appropriate, broadleaved woodland are being planted. The project aims to raise awareness of the importance of wildlife in the Mendips with schools and local businesses as well as farmers, making the link between conservation and benefits for people.
Since 2006, the project has covered 72% of the land within the Mendip Hills AONB in Somerset; worked with 133 land holders; carried out a habitat survey across just over 8,000 hectares and raised over £159,000 in income for land holders through agri-environment.
Start date: 2006
Scheme area: 20,000 hectares
Trust reserves within the scheme
22 including Cheddar Wood, GB Lots, Black Rock, Long Wood,
Ubley Warren, Bubwith Acres, Mascal's Wood, Middledown, Yoxter Range,
Chancellor's Farm, Draycott Sleights, Draycott Housegrounds, Cooks Fields,
Lynchcombe, Tor Hole Fields
This scheme is helping species including...
Greater horseshoe bat, lesser horseshoe bat, brown hare, dormouse, skylark, barn owl, Black darter butterfly, chalkhill blue butterfly, grayling butterfly, Spring sandwort, cheddar pink, spring cinquefoil, lesser meadow-rue, purple gromwell.
Current threats to the landscape
Agricultural intensification, land abandonment and neglect, biofuels, land acquisition for smallholdings with no prior experience, inappropriate recreation.
This scheme is also...
Helping wildlife adapt to climate change, providing habitat for pollinating insects, providing volunteering opportunities, skills training and environmental education
Natural England, Forestry Commission, Local Authorities, local landowners, Mendip Hills AONB, Mendip Quarries Advisory Group, Bristol Water.