For February’s pledge, we have turned our attention to the environment that surrounds us. It is sadly a regular occurrence now that the detrimental impact that we, the human race, have on the environment and the world in which we live, consumes the headlines of local, national and international news. For anyone who shares a passion for nature, who strives to preserve, protect and replenish the wildlife haven in which we are lucky enough to coexist alongside of, it is a profoundly upsetting. Yet, there is hope on the horizon! More and more charities and organisations are working tirelessly to bring the importance of preserving and conserving the natural world to the forefront of, not only their own agendas, but more crucially, society and business agendas too. One such charity is the Somerset Wildlife Trust, which is one of 46 independent wildlife conservation charities that make up The Wildlife Trust, who make it their mission to safeguard the UK’s wildlife and wild places.
The Somerset Wildlife Trust has a landholding of over 1,700 hectares which covers a wide and diverse range of habitats such as wetlands, woodlands, grasslands and meadows. They work year-round to protect and preserve wildlife and the places they call home such as dormice, otters, hedgehogs, barn owls and many other species. However, SWT does not just work within its nature reserves but is involved in numerous projects in the wider countryside and with diverse communities, including projects in coastal habitats and churchyards to name but two. SWT believes that, key to promoting a diverse, rich and flourishing environment, is getting people out in nature. To quote David Attenborough “No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced”.
In the lead up to Summer 2022, as well as renewing our Corporate Membership for Somerset Wildlife Trust, the A C Mole Charitable Trust repeated the 2021 donation of £500 to support the Dormouse Connected project here in Taunton. The expansion of this project within this business park itself, provided the perfect opportunity for our Green Team Lead Tilly Heasman to become involved by volunteering with SWT Ecologist, Ann Fells, to install dormice monitoring tunnels and tubes, as well as nesting boxes in the hope that we would find evidence that dormice were living around the areas of scrub and woodland bordering the motorway. During our time in discussion with Ann about the importance of the charity’s work with dormice, it was discovered that these adorable and tiny mammals had been found in isolated pockets within the local area, but one of the problems with this is just that, being isolated. The number of dormice in the area is sadly dwindling and as such being able to connect their habitats and thus populations is essential to their ability to survive and thrive.
With this knowledge etched in our minds, we thought what better way to spend our February 120th year pledge, than to work in partnership with Somerset Wildlife Trust on their ‘Dormouse Connected’ project funded by National Highways. With the much appreciated help and guidance from Ann, we are in the process of buying a variety of trees and shrubs (680 to be precise!), to create denser hedgerow on the lower field of Blackbrook Business Park (with the incredibly generous agreement of Summerfield Developments) an area identified as requiring improvement to enhance population growth by connecting the isolated territories.
Ann Fells on behalf of Somerset Wildlife Trust said, “We have been very grateful for Tilly and AC Mole’s enthusiasm to help with our efforts to ensure the ongoing survival of this isolated population of dormice. This work will help plug up one of the missing links in habitat along the motorway through which dormice will be able to move and breed. Our long-term aim is to create links across the motorway into the Blackdown Hills AONB where larger populations thrive.”
If you want to learn more about the charitable work that Somerset Wildlife Trust carry out or wish to do more to support wildlife in the local area by becoming a member of SWT, please visit their website for more information on www.somersetwildlife.org.