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On the morning of Wednesday 29th March (yes, the same day the Brexit was triggered!), a select group of people gathered at Ham Wall nature reserve to celebrate the completion of the hugely successful Avalon Marshes Landscape Partnership Scheme – a £2 million programme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. These included Stephen Boyce, Chair of the HLF South West Committee, and Simon Nash, Chief Executive of the Somerset Wildlife Trust, as well as representatives from RSPB and other partners.
Since the HLF Award back in April 2012, some 60 projects have been completed by the partners and a dedicated team of six staff. The projects have ranged from habitat and archaeological restoration, to education, improved interpretation, access and facilities. The partners include the Somerset Wildlife Trust, the Hawk and Owl Trust, Natural England, the South West Heritage Trust, and the RSPB, with support from the Environment Agency and Historic England. It was through this funding that many of the new facilities at Ham Wall and across the other reserves were developed. The partners have also benefitted from three trainee apprenticeships under the scheme. There has also been increased promotion and information about the area through the Avalon Marshes website, leaflets and interpretation panels.
The HLF programme has really accelerated the fantastic work being undertaken by all the partners in this unique area, and has really helped to put the Avalon Marshes on the map as one of the top wildlife and historic landscape destinations in the country! And the work does not stop there! There is a now strong legacy in terms of ongoing collaborative partnership working, with a view to continuing to develop biodiversity planning, volunteering, education and visitor management in the area.
Area Reserves Manager, RSPB, Somerset ad Gloucestershire