Rewilding charity Heal has purchased its first landholding of 460 acres near Bruton in Somerset, marking the establishment of its inaugural nature reserve called Heal Somerset. The charity plans to create similar nature reserves in all 48 English counties by 2050, covering nearly 25,000 acres. Heal Somerset aims to address the nature and climate crises while generating employment opportunities for local tradespeople and businesses. The project involves co-designing and delivering initiatives with the local community, with proposed activities including food growing areas, nature learning for children, wildflower meadow creation, and a community orchard. Public access will be provided to showcase the rewilding efforts, and the land will be restored using proven nature recovery approaches.
To finance the acquisition, Heal utilized affordable lending and received support from Triodos Bank UK and Direct Line Group. The charity also launched its unique ‘Heal 3×3’ land sponsorship scheme, allowing individuals to sponsor a 3m x 3m patch of land at Heal Somerset. The sponsorship funds, alongside public and corporate donations, contributed to the purchase. Heal aims to repay the loans through a major public fundraising appeal and seeks the support of major donors. The charity envisions early benefits from rewilding efforts, such as increased insect populations, plant growth, and a greater abundance of species. By acquiring land and promoting nature recovery, Heal aims to create opportunities for people, particularly young individuals, to participate in rewilding activities and contribute to environmental conservation.