The quality of our natural environment is one of the key reasons people want to live and work in this region. From the dramatic Avon Gorge, to the rolling hills around Bath, from the Mendips to the Cotwolds, we have stunning scenery that makes this area special. These landscapes contain a variety of important and rare species, such as the Bristol whitebeam, lesser horseshoe bat and peregrine falcon.
Our Iconic Wildlife & Landscapes group recognises the importance of the natural environment in the West of England and is identifying opportunities to secure its value. Through this group, we have identified our first Nature Improvement Area – ‘Severnside Wetlands’, shown below.
Severnside Wetlands Nature Improvement Area
LNPs have been empowered to identify locally determined Nature Improvement Areas (NIA). Using the criteria provided by Defra, the Iconic Wildlife & Landscape have group identified ‘Severnside’ as an area that would benefit from restoration and deliver significant ecological improvements on a landscape scale. The NIA runs down from the Lower Severn Vale in South Gloucestershire, through Avonmouth and includes the North Somerset Levels and Moors (map). The land included in the NIA is predominantly agricultural, though includes the towns of Weston-super-Mare, Clevedon and Portishead, and industrial port of Avonmouth.
The area is flat, low lying agricultural vale, characterised by the presence of water through its vast network of rivers, rhynes and ditches. These wetlands contain a mosaic of important habitats including mudflats, saltmarshes and wet pasture, which are rich in wildlife and attract large numbers of birds, invertebrates and mammals. The area is also important economically, and supports a number of industries and business, including Britain’s most centrally located deep sea port and the Severnside Avonmouth Enterprise Area, a strategic area of economic growth. This, coupled with demand for additional housing, puts increasing pressure on the land and the requirement to ensure land is managed sustainably.
There is already work underway in the northern part of the NIA through ‘A Forgotten Landscape’ project and to the south, through Avon Wildlife Trust’s North Somerset wetland project. Through this NIA we aim to bring together existing projects and help facilitate new projects – if you have an idea for a project, or know of an existing project happening within this area, please get in touch.