Simon Breeze
British Wildlife 27.4 April 2016

Reserve focus: Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve

A serendipitous combination of a shifting landscape 10,000 years in the making, traditional peat-workings and modern-day conservation management has resulted in Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve (NNR). It hosts a mosaic of large reedbeds, open water, wet woodland, fen and lowland raised mire, teeming with a unique blend of wetland wildlife. Owned and managed by Somerset Wildlife Trust (SWT) and lying approximately at mean sea level, the reserve is positioned on the north side of the Avalon Marshes and makes up part of the internationally recognised Somerset Levels and Moors, a place unique in its link to cultures past and present, and a beacon for wildlife throughout the seasons.

The Avalon Marshes were once a vast area of lowland raised mires, but drainage for agriculture and peat extraction accelerated in the early nineteenth century following enclosure, which claimed much of this previously common habitat. Today, the largest surviving fragment of acid lowland raised mire in the whole of the south-west can be found at Westhay Moor.


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