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Nature reserve to be created in Somerset

Words: Laura Edgar
Skylark / iStock-1324495782

Natural England and its partners have announced that a new ‘super’ National Nature Reserve is to be created in Somerset, encompassing a variety of habitats including salt marsh, heath and wetland.

The Somerset Wetlands will protect 6,140 hectares of land.

Many species of wetland and ground nesting birds live there, including the skylark, bittern and avocet and insects such as the hairy dragonfly, silver diving beetle and the raft spider, the second-largest spider in the UK.

The Somerset Wetlands will “knit together” six nature reserves and other nature managed land in the Somerset Levels, Coast and Moors and will join England’s developing Nature Recovery Network.

Tony Juniper, chair of Natural England, said: “The creation of this very large National Nature Reserve is an important moment for nature recovery in England. This is not least because it presents a practical demonstration of what can be done by working in partnership across the landscape at scale to reverse nature’s decline. Natural England intends to encourage other projects with similar ambition.

“Seventy years from the creation of our first National Nature Reserves in England, these wonderful places are needed now more than ever, as we face the challenges of global warming, wildlife decline and reconnecting people with the natural world.”

The government says the announcement of the wetlands demonstrates how it “is delivering” on the environment act, which includes a legally binding target to halt the decline in wildlife populations by 2030.

Rosie Hails, director of nature and science at the National Trust, commented: “The huge challenge posed by the twin climate and nature crises is such that ambitious solutions are urgently needed at scale. The launch of a new super National Nature Reserve represents a significant step forward in working across boundaries to address the most pressing environmental issues while, crucially, bringing nature closer to people.”

Craig Bennett, chief executive at The Wildlife Trusts, welcomed the announcement. “Working across whole landscapes is essential to tackling the twin nature and climate crises. Super National Nature Reserves provide a great opportunity to engage a wide range of people, including private landowners, to tackle some of the issues affecting our nature reserves that need action to be taken at a landscape scale.”

Image credit | iStock