Somerset Environmental Records Centre
The Somerset Environmental Records Centre (SERC) is the main centre holding data on wildlife sightings, types of environments and geological information for Somerset. It was set up in 1986 as a joint venture between the Somerset Wildlife Trust (SWT) and Somerset County Council.
SERC is a member of the Association of Local Environmental Records Centres and has close links to the National Biodiversity Network, and the National Federation of Biological Recorders. It is based at the offices of the Somerset Wildlife Trust in Wellington Road, Taunton, and has a full time team of four. Philip Comer, representing Friends of Quantock, met with the SERC Manager, Paula Hewitson, and Tony Price their Data Management Officer at their offices in September 2017 in order to share information about the two organisations and to explore areas of common interest and collaboration.
SERC has been involved with the local action plans and the local wildlife sites for Somerset since their inception, and has been helping to monitor Somerset’s biodiversity for over twenty years. SERC has a lead role in biodiversity strategy for Somerset, through the development of the Somerset Notables List and through managing the Local Wildlife Sites (LWS) and Local Geological Sites (LGS) survey programmes, reviewing sites against the county criteria and proposing any changes to designations of sites.
SERC work with and through a variety of different organisations and groups with an interest in environmental matters in Somerset. These include interest groups for particular species (e.g., butterflies, bats, geology, etc). They hold a joint meeting of these groups twice a year.
One of the uses of SERC data has been to support the background data needed by Parishes that are in the process of developing Neighbourhood Plans. It is understood that at least one of the parishes in the Quantock area are looking into this.
SERC have developed a web tool to allow anyone to submit data and sightings. This is now live on their website (www.somerc.com ), and a link has recently been added to the AONB site (www.quantockhills.com ). It is planned to also have a link on the FoQ website. A screenshot of the input table is shown as Figure 1. It is very easy to use as was demonstrated at our meeting by entering a sighting of a hedgehog in my garden the previous evening (the first one I have seen for some time). Once FoQ has the data recording tool on our website we would then be able to get a report on any data submitted. This would be an interesting development and we could then see what species FoQ members have spotted.
Baseline Survey on FoQ Land
One of the actions arising from our meeting with SERC was to consider carrying out a survey of the flora and fauna on the land owned by FoQ.
The idea would be to carry out a detailed survey of the species present on both blocks of land which would then form a baseline which would enable us to monitor any changes over time. The FoQ Committee is keen for this to happen and we are planning a meeting with SERC early in 2018 to develop a project plan. It is envisaged that such a survey would be carried out in cooperation with SERC.