SOMERSET Wildlife Trust has launched its Somerset Nature Reserves Fund appeal for 2019.

The annual appeal has been running since 2016, and has raised an impressive £100,000 to date - all of which has been reinvested into maintaining the health of the trust's nature reserves across the county.

The trust say these funds have made a vital difference to help keep these nature reserves secure for the next generation and safeguard precious wildlife and fragile habitats.

The day-to-day running costs and maintenance of the Trust’s 1,700 hectares of land, added up to £733,175 in the 2017/18 financial year – that’s around £2,000 a day.

The day-to-day maintenance work on reserves is supported by dedicated teams of volunteers, overseen by eight permanent members of reserves staff across the county, but specialist contractors are also needed regularly for work that cannot be done by trust staff or volunteers.

Ensuring staff and volunteers have the right equipment and training to develop their skills for the long-term benefit of the reserves is also crucial.

"And this year, raising funds is more important than ever," says SWT head of fundraising Rachael Fickweiler.

"EU agri-environment scheme funding made up more than 20 per cent of the trust’s total income last year, but is set to disappear once we leave the EU.

"What might replace these schemes and the timescales for their introduction are unclear, but the charity could be faced with an enormous gap in the funds to keep its reserves – the very cornerstones of its conservation efforts – in good health.

"We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone that has supported our Nature Reserves Fund in the last three years – it has made an incredible difference to our work.

"We hope once again people will get behind us and support us again this year.

"We are committed to doing our best to maintain nature reserves – for the wildlife that call them home, the wider ecology of the county, but also for everyone who lives in, works in and visits Somerset."