We have chosen six projects to showcase the importance of a healthy natural environment – to ourselves, our communities and our businesses. These projects use nature to create added value by:
- improving health
- increasing tourism
- building better communities
- supporting jobs
- enriching our lives
There is a brief summary of these projects below and more detail is contained in our Prospectus
1. A Perfect Brue
The Brue Valley, in the heart of the Somerset Levels, is one of the richest, yet most sensitive wildlife areas in the county. The potential is there to create England’s best wetland habitat and to support the local economy. To maintain, improve and restore this extraordinary landscape we need to work with farmers, landowners and local businesses to create value from nature, bringing new investment to this part of the Levels.
Our next steps will be to work with the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership to secure funding for a new Avalon Marshes Centre. We will also secure long-term agreements with landowners to double the area managed as nature rich wetland.
2. Much Moor
Woodland has always played an important role in the landscape and history of Exmoor and now a range of new initiatives are bringing new life to the ancient woodlands and to the local economy. Woodlands are being restored with native planting, improving the local landscape and wildlife potential and attracting more visitors to Exmoor. Other woodland sites are being actively managed for wood fuel to extract the social and economic value from a natural and abundant raw material.
Our next steps will be to work with ExmoorNational Park, The Exmoor Society and their partners to grow the scale of their woodland initiatives and expand them throughout Somerset.
3. You are what you eat
Somerset farmers produce a wide variety of quality meat, dairy, grain, vegetables and fruits but despite this the proportion of locally produced food eaten in Somerset is falling. The New Economics Foundation estimates that every pound spent on local sustainably produced food is worth £2.50 to the local economy and has less impact on the environment. It is therefore important to create a strong Somerset food brand and put in place the infrastructure to support local production, processing, distribution and marketing.
Our next steps will be to bring together the key players in food retail, production and marketing to plan a coordinated approach to promoting nature-friendly Somerset food.
4. Country towns
Networks of urban green space are really important to our quality of life. They purify the air and can help to reduce the effects of flooding, making our towns more resilient to the effects of climate change and extreme weather. Urban green spaces are valued for biodiversity and public access and recreation. We need to ensure the valuable role played by nature in urban areas is fully understood and appreciated.
Our next steps, working with planning authorities, will be to negotiate a ‘Nature Agreement’ with major urban developments to create new areas of open space for the benefits of both residents and wildlife. We will also develop ‘Living Landscape’ projects supported by lottery grants for four more towns in Somerset to ensure thriving populations of wildlife in our urban areas.
5. Stepping out
Somerset’s coast is rich in marine life, with wintering shore birds, wildflowers and breeding birds, abundant geology and fossils. By improving access and marketing of the coastal path we can open up the area to tourists and local people. This will benefit local businesses as well as the special landscapes and habitats.
Our next steps will be to set up a group to improve, link and promote four Somerset coastal trails – the Nature Coast Trail, The Geology Trail, The Beach Walk Trail and the Adventurers Trail.
6. Feeling great
Being outside and enjoying nature is good for us. The natural environment can play a key role in preventing and managing many health problems as well as providing mental and social benefits. We will aim to ensure that every Somerset resident has access to good quality greenspace.
Our next steps will be to work with partners to design projects and places to improve the health of the local population and increase enjoyment of nature.