Rewilding North Somerset

Project background

In 2019 we shared our plans to introduce rewilding across North Somerset. This means we will be creating new habitats to enable wildlife to flourish as well as helping to address climate change.

We have planted trees and in some areas are now letting the grass grow longer. Both of these activities will help more plants, insects, and mammals to flourish helping to improve biodiversity.

We have focused our plans on areas of grass that are closely mown every few weeks. This is called amenity grass. We manage around 2.5 million square metres of amenity grass.

We are not rewilding to save money – we are doing it to enhance the benefits of our natural environment for our residents and wildlife.

We have been introducing areas since winter 2019/20 with the final trees planted winter 2021/22 and final tall grass areas introduced summer 2022.

consultation

All areas that were identified were open to consultation from November 2019 to January 2020. We had over 500 responses, with the majority of comments supportive towards the project.

Following feedback from the community and further discussions, some areas were removed, and some were altered. All other areas were accepted into our rewilding programme.

Rewilding champions

In partnership with Avon Wildlife Trust we are looking for rewilding champions. Champions will help us with the ongoing management of these sites including ongoing surveys of the plants and wildlife found in our rewilded areas. 

More information about how to get involved can be found on our rewilding champions page.

Rewilding map

We’ve created a map so you can see the rewilding locations that have been created in your local area.

This also indicates areas that we carry out alternative management techniques. It also identifies areas that other partners such as Town and Parish Councils have carried out rewilding initiatives. 

Planting trees

We have planted around 30,000 young trees across North Somerset. Trees provide a habitat for a wide range of wildlife, giving both food and shelter. They also capture carbon in their leaves, and in the wood for as long as they are alive.

Introducing tall grass

We’ll have reduced how often we mow grass in some areas to allow the grass to grow.  As a result, we have introduced around 400,000 square metres of tall grass around the region.

This taller grass will allow a range of grass species to develop, increasing the biodiversity benefits. Tall grass is just as important for wildlife as wildflowers. It gives animals shelter and somewhere to hunt, breed and feed.

We will cut most of this grass at the end of the flowering season – usually between August and October – and the cuttings will be left on site. The grass may be cut again in the spring if needed for biodiversity purposes.

Some of the tall grass areas may be left uncut to allow natural succession to take place, creating scrub. Scrub species will produce fruit and seeds as well as areas for birds to nest. If left for long enough this would turn into woodland.

Flower meadows

While tall grass will be the most common rewilding technique we use, areas for flower meadows will also be considered. These areas will be allowed to grow before being cut at the end of the flowering season. For flower meadows to be successful, they need poor soil. Unlike the tall grass areas, cuttings will be removed from flower meadows to allow the less dominant species to flourish.

How this fits in with our policies

Supporting our biodiversity action plan

Lots of the work planned in our rewilding project will support our biodiversity action plan.

Less grass mowing will support insect and bee populations, while reducing hedge trimming will allow hedges to flower and produce fruit.

Planting more trees alongside existing woodland will allow wildflowers, birds, insects and soil microbes to spread into the new areas, providing more flowering and fruit producing plants.

Reducing our carbon footprint

We declared a climate emergency at the beginning of 2019. Since then, we’ve been looking at ways to become carbon neutral.

Planting more trees and reducing the frequency that we cut grass across North Somerset will help to reduce our carbon footprint.

Green infrastructure

In 2021 we adopted a new Green Infrastructure Strategy, this strategy will continue to ensure we deliver the Councils core visions of an open, fairer, greener North Somerset. Continuing to look at options to rewild areas of North Somerset forms part of this strategy.

Further information

We have created an in-depth FAQ document to answer the most common questions around the project.

If you would like more information about a particular site, please contact us.

Rewilding concerns and considerations

We know people may have concerns about the effects of rewilding on their community. More information about areas such  ticks, rats, and management considerations and concerns can be found on our rewilding concerns and considerations page.

Volunteering

We are working with a number of community groups and volunteers across North Somerset, however  there’s still a lot of work needed to make rewilding happen and we need your help.

If you’re interested in getting involved, please email us with your name and contact details.

We will be looking for rewilding champions to help lead sessions within local areas including:

Tree management

  • weeding
  • watering
  • making sure the canes are kept on the trees until we need to remove them
  • removing canes
  • planting more trees

Grass management

  • surveying
  • developing meadow areas; seeding, removing grass cuttings