Our local environment

01 February 2022

The WPA Brook

Some of you may know, or some may have guessed by looking at our address, that the WPA Head Office building sits on a business park that has a brook running through it, the Blackbrook.

We are lucky enough to have the brook run across our site and it goes on to feed the River Tone and in turn the River Parrett, journeying across the Somerset Levels before reaching the Bristol Channel.

The ecological importance of the brook

Small streams and brooks, with a flow of fresh water, are a very important part of most ecosystems in the UK. As well as nursery grounds for many types of fish, they also support a wide range of mammal, amphibian, bird, insect and plant life.

Wildlife has evolved over thousands of years to thrive in brooks and streams. From plants with more complex root systems helping keep themselves in place next to the water and also helping prevent soil erosion, to small insects and amphibians that use the sediments left by the more gentle flow of water to hide from predators and raise their young.

The wider significance of the Somerset Levels

You will undoubtedly have heard of the Somerset Levels, one of the largest wetland areas in the UK on the edge of which we sit, with our brook feeding some of the major rivers that flow across it.

The Levels are of huge importance, both nationally and internationally, in a number of ways:

  • Biodiversity - significant for so many types of wildlife, encompassing everything from wading birds to small mammals and rare invertebrates to huge variety of plant species, the Levels offer a rich and diverse habitat. Recent projects have seen extra support given to important otter and water vole populations as well as the reintroduction of the Common Crane to the area after a 400 year absence.
  • Flood Prevention - as a natural flood plain, it is the job of carefully managed sections of the Levels to flood and hold large volumes of water during times of excessive rainfall. In doing so they prevent other areas from flooding, be it towns/villages or important farmland. Ongoing management of the Levels, including the damming of rivers and dredging of numerous waterways, are still cause for a lot of local and national debate.
  • Historic Links - early human presence in the area can be traced back 500,000 years and the Levels include some great examples of pre-historic villages, iron age forts and other types of early settlements. King Alfred the Great is said to have created a fort on the Levels in the 870's from which he withstood Viking attacks and later in 1685 the Monmouth Rebellion was ended at the Battle of Sedgemoor, here.

Helpful links

Please see below a list of useful websites if you'd like to read more about wetland habitats:

Read more about WPA's environmental aims and objectives.