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DEFRA visit highlights successful partnership between Mendip Activity Centre and Mendip Hills National Landscape

On Thursday 1st February 2024, Mendip Activity Centre hosted Tamara Finkelstein, the Permanent Secretary for DEFRA (the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs).


Tamara Finkelstein's visit to the Mendip Hills National Landscape was an opportunity to showcase what it means to look after a nationally important landscape. Mendip Activity Centre has partnered with the Mendip Hills National Landscape to support their nature recovery plan. The nature recovery plan aims to build a single, improved, joined-up and larger national network of core, restored and new wildlife-rich places. It is a deep dive into the species and habitats of the Mendip Hills and sets out what we can all do to help them recover across this special landscape.

Jim Hardcastle, Manager of the Mendip Hills National Landscape Team, said, "Mendip Activity Centre was the ideal showcase for the visit as it highlights how a great partnership between the public and private sector can help nature recover. We've produced a Nature Recovery Plan to show how we can all adapt to the ecological emergency but we need strong partnerships on the ground to deliver national targets."
Nathan Orr shows Tamara Finkelstein a hibernaculum, built to create better habitat for adders.

During her visit, the Permanent Secretary was shown a hibernaculum, one of 15 built across the Mendip Hills. These have been constructed as part of a project to build new homes for adders, who are a threatened species.


The Mendip Hills are one of the last strongholds for the adder. The adder is one of eight identified champion species in the Mendip Hills. Also included are the hazel dormouse, small pearl-bordered fritillary, greater horseshoe bat, skylark and black oil beetle.

As part of their partnership, Mendip Activity Centre is part-funding one of the Mendip Hills' ecologists, Nathan Orr. As well as helping to support the nature recovery on Mendip's site in North Somerset, Nathan Orr provides invaluable education and training to Mendip's outdoor instructors which in turn they will be able to share as part of outdoor education and adventure sessions.

"As specialists in outdoor education delivery, working with Nathan has allowed us to develop our team's awareness of environmental issues and how a positive approach to nature recovery can support this," said David Eddins, Managing Director at Mendip Activity Centre. "Education is one of the best ways to support nature recovery and we are delighted to be doing our part."



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