In the past the Somerset Levels teemed with wildlife. Over the centuries numbers have dropped dramatically, and many species have vanished entirely. Sadly this has happened all over Britain, and the decline is still continuing.
By restoring habitats, creating wilder spaces and returning lost species to the Somerset Levels we can hopefully not only play a part in helping to avert ecological collapse, but bring a little more joy to our countryside and our lives. At the same time, regenerating natural habitats may help to revive human cultures based on a more sustainable interaction with the land. To me it is baffling that we so often look at leaving land for nature as a sacrifice. I think instead of the huge delight we take from nature and the untold riches we could experience if we could coax it back to even a glimmer of its former abundance.
Here are a few of the animals which used to be found in and around the Somerset Levels, and which may – one day – be returned. I’m sure there are many more (I’m not so good at small birds particularly). Indeed, our knowledge of what animals once lived in our lands or which one day will is nowhere near as complete as many assume and there are undoubtedly surprises in store. As much as the species diversity it is the abundance we have lost.
Cirl Bunting and Corn Bunting
Crane (now returning)
White stork (probably)
European Wild Cat
Possibly pine marten or stone marten
Probably Golden Eagle
Pool Frog (possibly)
Tree frog (possibly)