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£130k fund aims to boost wildlife in Somerset

A TOTAL of £310,000 is to be used to ‘create and restore’ wildlife habitats in Somerset.

The money, from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), will be used to develop a new Local Nature Recovery Strategy (LNRS) for the county, with the project led by Somerset Council.

Somerset is one of 48 ‘responsible authorities’ in the UK awarded money from the £14m government fund to draw up plans to create and restore wildlife-rich habitats.

And the council said the initiative, which also includes the Local Nature Partnership, will be a ‘long-term evidence-based strategy to recover, protect and enhance nature and wildlife’.

Now, over the next 12 to 18 months, the council plans to establish what is needed.

The views of groups in sectors such as farming, health and the community are set to highlight where the most important areas for nature are.

Kirsty Larkins, service director for climate and sustainability at the council, said: “One of our key priorities is a green, more sustainable Somerset and it is vital that we act now to recover and protect wildlife and nature and halt the decline of biodiversity in Somerset, playing our part in the UK-wide effort.

“This protection and enhancement goes hand in hand with our commitment to tackle climate change. As with any strategy of this kind, the key to its success will be collaboration – developing common goals we can all get behind, by working together and building understanding.

“We look forward to working with Somerset residents and other partners to develop this strategy together.”

The Somerset Local Nature Partnership is a group of representatives with various economic, social, political and environmental interests from across the county.

Chair, Georgia Stokes, said: “Somerset Local Nature Partnership brings together a strategic mix of business, academics, statutory and voluntary organisations to champion nature and the benefits a healthy natural world brings.

“Working with Somerset Council on the Local Nature Recovery Strategy enables a joint approach to recovering nature in the county, ensuring the people of Somerset have an opportunity to access nature where they live and work within a thriving countryside teaming with wildlife.

“Despite being renowned for its greenness, Somerset nature is struggling.

“The Somerset State of Nature report shows the loss of precious habitats which are home to important species such as adder, greater horseshoe bats and the skylark and are iconic to Somerset. It is vital we work together across sector, and bring in investment, to protect, connect and restore these and other important habitats.”

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