PEOPLE in all 335 parishes in Somerset are doing their bit to help conserve the barn owl population in the county.

Nest boxes are being built by more than 500 volunteers to be installed in every parish under a three-year Somerset Wildlife Trust scheme, in collaboration with the Hawk and Owl Trust.

The initiative has also seen 1,000 children learn about barn owl conservation, including pupils at North Town Primary School in Taunton.

Jessy Emery, from the Trust, which has launched a £30,000 appeal to support the Somerset Community Barn Owl Project, said: “Winter can be a tough time for a lot of wildlife, not least the barn owl whose numbers can plummet during harsh weather.

“Extreme winters in the 1940s and 1960s wiped out over half the UK population and barn owls have struggled to recover ever since.

“More than 80% of barn owls now nest and raise their young in man-made boxes like the ones going up in every parish of Somerset.”

Recent records indicate that Somerset currently has just 200 breeding pairs and their population in the UK has dropped by as much as 70% since the 1930s.

To give to the appeal, go to or call 01823-652400.