Somerset Wildlife Trust's work 'under threat' from Covid-19, Brexit and Ash Dieback

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The Somerset Wildlife Trust has said its work to reverse the decline of nature is under threat after it launched an emergency appeal for funds.

The charity says it’s facing at least a £200,000 gap in its finances this year because of the coronavirus, a reduction in EU funding and outbreaks of disease among trees on its reserves.

Somerset Wildlife Trust says more people have turned to nature during lockdown but they need help to continue their work Credit: ITV News West Country

One of the effects of Covid-19 has been an increase in people seeking out space and wildlife.

Somerset Wildlife Trust's Chief Executive, Georgia Stokes, said the irony, though, is that as the county's environmental havens have become more popular, the charity faces an uncertain future as it fights to reduce a decline in nature.

She said: "Most people will be aware that there is a climate crisis at the moment but most people are not aware that there is also an ecological crisis and the two things are linked.

"We are facing the real risk of having to actually reduce the work that we do so there is that really big risk that we won’t be able to up our game and actually deal with the ecological crisis."

The Somerset Wildlife Trust has been in existence for over 55 years Credit: ITV News West Country

The lockdown preventing fundraising events, reductions in EU funding and the rapid onset of Ash Dieback disease among trees have created an unwelcome perfect storm for the Trust.

Director of fundraising, Katie Arber, says the charity has launched an emergency appeal: "We’re expecting our income to drop by at least £200,000 this year and that’s a really significant amount of money for us.

"We are hoping that people will feel able to support us and dig deep to really help plug some of that gap in our funding."

It’s a great oasis for people like me to come and see the trees and the plants and to have the freedom to walk around.

Gary Power, dog-walker

The Somerset Wildlife Trust looks after over 4,200 acres of land across the county

One of its reserves is Netherclay Community Woodland in Bishops Hull, which is on the outskirts of Taunton.

Gary Power regularly walks his dogs there and said: "It’s a great oasis for people like me to come down and see the trees and the plants and to have the freedom with a couple of dogs to walk around.

"It is extremely important to maintain it. The guys that do the work to make it good - that makes it good for all of us."

Netherclay Community Woodland is just one of many nature reserves the Somerset Wildlife Trust manages Credit: ITV News West Country

The Trust says that funds raised by its emergency appeal will help 'bridge the significant gap in its finances this year so it can continue its work for wildlife and ensure Somerset can continue to play its part in addressing the national and global ecological and climate crises.'

CEO Georgia Stokes, said: "If we can’t up our game in a time of ecological crisis then we are going to lose many species and Somerset is going to look very different, as will the rest of the world, so we really need to be doing more right now.

"This is the time when Somerset Wildlife Trust and other environmental organisations really need to step up."

Find out more about the Trust's appeal here.