The special and unique area of the Somerset levels are not just a beautiful spot that many walkers enjoy as a designated world heritage site, but due to the fact that they are a unique environment, they are also home to a wide array of species that depend on this particular landscape for survival.
To find out more about why this region is so special, we need to go back thousands of years, to when the Somerset levels were not land at all – they were actually underwater! Then, around the year 4500BC, the waters started to recede from the area, leaving fertile land behind it. This then became known as the land of the summer people – a name which stuck and is now the name – Somerset.
When these marshes and bogs were first formed, the people who lived and worked on this land, built paths to get across the waters that formed a big part of the land. You can still walk along the Sweet Track today in fact!
It is special as it is a large and unique low-level wetland, that has many native flowers growing – many species which have been lost in lots of other areas of England. Look out for the purple bugle or of course cowslips when taking a walk on the levels in the spring and summer months. The marshes are also still used to grow willow, which flourishes in the damp environment and is used to make natural baskets and of course cricket bats!
Animals are also abundant here – from the thriving otter population to the birds like the waders, who find rich pickings when looking for food on the marshes – it is clear why this area is so special.
Because of this, it is an area that needs to be protected and well managed. Especially as climate change threatens the planet, environments like this become particularly vulnerable and work must be done in order to preserve them for the creatures that call it home.
Because of flooding in recent years, one of the solutions that has been put into place to help to maintain the Somerset levels is dredging. Using strong equipment like machinery from this excavator hire company greensplanthire.uk/plant-hire-leicester/excavator-hire/ the local rivers such as the Tone were dredged and have been regularly to make the channels wider and deeper. The last serious flood here took place in the winter of 2013 – 2014 and since the dredging was brought in, it has not occurred since.
Managing this beautiful area is something that will probably become more challenging in the future – but as we begin to take notice of climate change and make changes to our lives that will benefit the earth, it is hoped that this special place can be saved and enjoyed for many more generations to come.