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Sunday, November 30, 2008


The Somerset Wildlife Trust has announced the publication of a new strategy document for Somerset.
The full document can be viewed and downloaded from the Wildlife Trusts web site, link here, or the County Councils web site. Link here.

Its quite a long 37 page document which seems very relevant to our local groups aims and objectives concerning wildlife particularly strategy Objective 8. Some highlights are shown below.

(From page 19)
Objective 8:
Enable community engagement with the natural environment and
biodiversity conservation
Current Challenges:
The relationship between the people of Somerset and our wildlife needs to be strengthened
if the natural environment and conservation are to become a part of everyday life for far more

( From page 20)

Where we want to be in 2018:
For more people to have connected with wildlife, to have discovered the benefits that it can offer
and the ways in which they can help conserve it.
Key Actions:
8.1 Encourage all landowners to take biodiversity into account when managing their land.
8.2 Encourage landowners to take up access and educational visits option under the Higher Level
Stewardship scheme.
8.3 Declare suitable sites as Local Nature Reserves. Create and implement management plans
that focus on improving biodiversity value and sustainability, wildlife interpretation and
accessibility for all.
8.4 Explore the opportunities for disseminating local wildlife information. For example: Setting up
a dedicated Wildlife Information Service to provide expert responses to biodiversity enquiries;
organising road shows and practical activities in which people can participate and creating a
popular guide to exploring Somerset’s wildlife.
8.5 Facilitate and enable voluntary community biodiversity conservation projects and provide
support for local biodiversity champions. Develop the role of volunteers in the protection and
management of local sites.
8.6 Adopt Natural England’s Accessible Natural Green Space Standards - and ideally also the
Woodland Trust’s Access standards - as the minimum standard of accessible natural green
space to be achieved.
8.7 Include Local Biodiversity Action Plans within Sustainable Community Strategies.

This post is just a first reaction to the issue of this document which is supported by a long list of voluntary and local government organisations. It may provide an excellent basis from which to ask questions of our local councils to find out how they see themselves putting this thinking into practice.


  1. I've just discovered this site -- good work -- and as a past resident of the Levels (and current member of the SWT) I'd like to ask: what does the document say about agricultural biodiversity? The character of the levels is so bound up with the kind of agriculture practices there, so I wonder how the plan addresses that directly.

  2. Hi Jeremy,
    That is a good question which could be answered in several ways. a)Farmers are urged to work with wildlife as far as possible by the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group.
    b)Perhaps you mean farmers growing a range of diverse crops which is a different story I think. Might even involve GM crops.
    c)Perhaps I should ask you to define the term: agricultural diversity.
    d)The answer might be , none.
    I must give it more thought!!

  3. I'm not thinking about working with wildlife, I'm thinking of the incentives that might exist for farmers to plant different crops and different varieties, and to adjust their drainage and flood regimes, so that their entire farm system is more diverse. I expect the Strategy document has very little to say on that subject.

  4. If you read two of the points from the doc extract I posted that is 8.1 and 8.7 , I think they show the way in which the authors have approached this important subject. No one can dictate to farmers how they operate their farms to make a commercial profit which is the reason for having the Sustainable Community Strategies document and attempting to link it to the Biodiversity doc. Water levels are also controlled by other organisations just to add to the problem. This is all just scratching the surface of complex relationships and issues and I can only hope it helps to talk about and question what is going on as you have done.