Mendip Hills to be announced as new 'super nature reserve'
A new 'super nature reserve' stretching across Cheddar Gorge and the Mendip Hills was created in October, protecting more than 1,400 ha of precious habitats in Somerset.
The National Nature Reserve (NNR), announced by Natural England and partners, includes limestone slopes, traditional wildflower grasslands, ancient woodland, gorges and rocky outcrops. As well as protecting valuable wildlife habitat, it is hoped the reserve will give local people better access to nature.
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary is a key species in the Mendip Hills (Chris Teague).
The Mendip Hills host conservation priority species such as Eurasian Skylark, Hazel Dormouse, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and plants such as the highly localised Cheddar Pink. The hills are already listed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Tony Juniper, chair of Natural England, said: "The new Mendip National Nature Reserve is a huge step for nature recovery, not just in Somerset but the country as a whole. This treasure trove of ancient woodlands, rich wildflower grasslands and stunning geology is of great national importance and sustains a huge variety of wildlife."
The site is the second in the new King's Series of National Nature Reserves, which will see the creation of five major NNRs every year for the next five years. The first to be announced was on the Lincolnshire coast.
The reserve will be looked after in collaboration with the National Trust, the Somerset and Avon Wildlife Trusts, Butterfly Conservation and the Woodland Trust, among others.
Ian Barrett, chief executive of Avon Wildlife Trust, said: "We're very excited to collaborate with partner organisations to be part of this new super National Nature Reserve in the Mendips.
By working together across this beautiful landscape, we are helping to help enable nature's recovery across the region so that much loved wildlife can survive and thrive."