Nature Reserves Fund Appeal launches to ensure populations of ‘unsung wildlife superheroes’ that keep the county’s ecosystems healthy are secure for the future.

Field Vole. Photo: WildStock

The 5th March 2018 marked the launch of the 2018 Somerset Nature Reserves Fund AppealThe annual fund was launched in 2016 to ensure the charity had the vital ongoing funds to maintain the basic underlying health of all Somerset Wildlife Trust’s nature’s reserves across the county.  The Fund has since inspired many who care about the countys precious landscapes to make donations, which have made a real difference to the Trust’s ability to keep these special places secure for the next generation.

Given the continuing depletion of our meadows, hedgerows and ancient woodland which come as a result of the many pressures the county is under, SWT’s nature reserves are more important than ever so it is vital the Fund continues to be successful. The Trust hopes that those that care about Somerset’s wildlife and habitats will make donations and support the charity’s work.

Six-Spot Burnet. Photo: Matt Sweeting

This year the Fund puts the spotlight on how important it is that the Trust is able to look after populations of insects and small mammals through its work, so the natural ecosystems and food chains on reserves remain strong.

Simon Nash, Chief Executive explains in a little more detail:

Our nature reserves are critical in terms of providing perfect habitats where vulnerable wildlife can survive and thrive, and have been the cornerstone of our work to deliver some of our more high-profile conservation successes, such as that which has been achieved for Bittern, Large Blue butterflies and Barn Owls.  But these successes need sustaining with ongoing specialist habitat management and, in fact, they are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the challenges that all our countys wildlife species face ahead.

What is abundantly clear is that we cant underestimate the importance of ensuring that our smaller, lesser seen species – particularly our invertebrates – exist in good number on our reserves.  It is upon these unsung heroes that all our wildlife depends, as they serve as vital food sources for many other species within the wider ecosystems of our wetlands, woodlands, grasslands and beyond.

Alarming research from Germany last year revealed that there had been an 80% reduction in the amount of flying insects since 1989, which compounds the fact that we must strengthen our reserves with bioabundance (numbers of) in mind as well as biodiversity (variety of), so we ensure that vital links in our natural systems are not eroded quietly out of sight.

The annual cost of managing our reserves is significant, so The Somerset Nature Reserves Fund is a really important way to raise the ongoing necessary funds for us to support them literally from the ground up, so their underlying health is robust enough to counter the considerable pressures that lay ahead. People in Somerset really do understand that this work takes a huge amount of effort and investment annually, so we are grateful for the support the Fund has received to date, and hope that people can support us and our work again this year. Every donation really does make a real difference.