Southlake Favourable Condition Project Report

Download Report: Southlake Moor Favourable Condition Project Report

Summary

Southlake Moor Favourable Condition Project has restored 200ha of floodplain grazing marsh on the Somerset Levels to favourable condition, whilst also providing improved water level management for farming, enhanced flood storage and a valuable education resource.  The project has been developed and implemented by the Parrett Internal Drainage Board (IDB), as part of a wider Multi-Agency Project that also includes the other IDBs in Somerset, Natural England and the Environment Agency.

Changes in water level management on Southlake have benefited wet grassland and ditch habitats and a wide range of wetland species, including large numbers of wildfowl and waders that now use the flooded grasslands in winter as a safe roost and feeding site.

A complex mix of issues had to be addressed before any changes in water management could be made.  These included the need for major improvements to the water control infrastructure and changes in land management practices.  The involvement and support of local farmers and communities was therefore central to the success of the project and to developing a locally appropriate and practical approach.  Public consultations events, project group meetings, site visits and newsletters have been used throughout the five year project to help increase awareness and appreciation of the issues.

The engineering works for the project were supported financially by Defra grant-in aid funding, and Natural England has established Higher Level Stewardship agreements with farmers to help support changes in land management and enhance wet grassland and ditch habitats.  The ongoing operation and maintenance of the system is funded from local revenue raised by the Parrett IDB.

The Southlake Project is the first wetland restoration scheme to be completed by the Parrett IDB and marks a significant change in the Board’s activities towards more multi-functional and sustainable management of floodplain wetland systems.