Rewilding charity Heal has just acquired land in Somerset, where it will create a new nature reserve.
Heal says the site will be a blueprint for establishing a major nature recovery site in all 48 English counties by 2050, together covering almost 25,000 acres.
The initial 460 acres site, to be called Heal Somerset, aims to tackle the nature and climate crises while creating new jobs and work for local tradespeople and businesses, with projects to be co-designed and delivered with the local community.
Jan Stannard, Heal’s co-founder and Chair of Trustees said: “We have worked day and night over two challenging years to secure funding and to find this beautiful place for wildlife and for all of us, to show that together we can take fast, practical action to benefit nature, climate and people.
“Having acquired the land, the first step has been to talk through our ideas with our neighbours and the local community, listen to their views and discuss any questions they have. We have been inspired by the many positive responses and people’s enthusiasm.”
The first ideas for the site are areas for food growing and nature learning for children, wildflower meadow creation, planting a community orchard, and indoor meeting space for use by community groups. The site includes miles of hedgerows, with mature oaks and numerous other trees scattered across the undulating landscape. There are a number of traditional stone farm buildings, which the charity plans to restore and renovate.
Natural regeneration of trees, improved soil health and other plant growth will help fight climate change by capturing carbon. Habitats including trees, scrub, grassland, bare earth and water will ensure the greatest diversity of plant and animal species.
Heal expects early benefits of rewilding to include an increase in insect numbers, growth of plants including tree saplings, and a greater abundance and diversity of species.
Stannard added: “We have had support from thousands of people and more than 20 businesses, who believed in us when all we had was a vision for what could be achieved. This is the news they’ve all been waiting for and we are so grateful for their trust and backing. Now we need many more people to support us so that we can achieve our bigger goals.
“The process of rewilding has already begun and though it will take many years for nature to recover, we expect to see positive changes immediately, first small and then more visible within a couple of years.”
For more details about Heal, visit the charity’s website.