A new free mobile app called Somerset Trails has been launched to help people explore the local impacts of climate change and ways that nature can help Somerset adapt.
Produced by the partnership project Co-Adapt, Somerset Trails is funded by Somerset Rivers Authority and the EU’s Interreg 2Seas programme.
The app combines maps for walkers with video-guided tours.
A Kids Corner section has been specially created for children.
“We need to be more prepared for changing weather patterns”
Cllr David Hall, Chair of Somerset Rivers Authority and Somerset County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Planning and Community Infrastructure, said: “This brilliant Somerset project is once again leading the way in generating awareness and ideas about how we can adapt to the effects of climate change.
“Recent flooding events in the county have served as a reminder that we need to be more prepared for changing weather patterns and this app shows everyone how important their actions can be to finding the solutions.”
Trails and films
When walkers are out using the app to follow trails, short films made on location are triggered at key points. Guides in these films include Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Shelly Easton and the fantastic 8-year-old Iona, both pictured at the top of this page. Local experts include John Rowlands (pictured below), formerly of the Environment Agency, now of Somerset Rivers Authority and the Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group SouthWest (FWAG SW).
The first trail begins in the centre of Wedmore. It incorporates fine views across the Somerset Levels, and takes in meadows, dew ponds and historic ridge and furrow field systems.
Later this summer, a second trail will be launched by the National Trust. This will focus on the Porlock Vale Streams project on Exmoor, with behind-the-scenes footage of re-introduced beavers and details of pioneering river restoration schemes.
For younger walkers on the Wedmore trail, 8-year-old tour guide Iona leads the way in a section called Kids Corner. She said: “I think people are going to have a lot of fun coming on the walk, and they’re going to learn lots about climate change and what people are doing about it in Somerset.”
Jolyon Chesworth, Head of Engagement at Somerset Wildlife Trust, commented: “Climate change is a scary issue and sometimes so overwhelming that as individuals we can feel helpless.
“By following the trails on the app we can help people explore some of Somerset’s most beautiful areas and learn about how nature can help us adapt to what is coming if we look after it.
“As a dad I sometimes find it hard to talk to my children about climate change. It will affect their lives and they need to learn about it so they can be part of the solution, but equally we don’t want to scare them.
“Having Iona as a tour guide is brilliant in terms of inspiring the next generation in their own language to take action and find innovative solutions to tomorrow’s challenges.
“Hearing from those who are already taking action is really inspiring and gives us hope and optimism, as well as practical tips on what we can all do to contribute to a brighter future.”
Throughout the walks, people are invited to add their own thoughts and ideas, so project teams can develop climate adaptation plans with community voices at their heart.
Co-Adapt is part of the EU’s Interreg 2 Seas funded programme. It involves 12 partners in four countries, the UK, France, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Projects in Somerset are Adapting the Levels, which is led on the ground by Somerset County Council, Somerset Wildlife Trust and FWAG SW, and the Porlock Vale Streams project, which is led by the National Trust.
Adapting the Levels is match-funded by Somerset Rivers Authority, which has also made contributions to specific elements of the Porlock Vale Streams project.
The other UK-based project is Connecting the Culm, which is led by the Blackdown Hills AONB team. The River Culm rises in Somerset and flows down through Devon.