MPs in the West Country are to be asked to lend political support to the protection of the region's threatened wildlife by becoming South West "species champions".
The initiative has been launched this month by RSPB, Butterfly Conservation, Bumblebee Conservation, Buglife, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, The Wildlife Trusts and National Trust. Initially just three MP's have been approached, but it is hoped to roll out the project more widely in 2015.
Tessa Munt, MP for Wells, has signed up as the first "champion" having elected to support the bittern, a rare waterbird making a strong comeback in her own Somerset constituency.
MPs will be invited to champion a variety of species. Each of the species chosen will be currently affected by a range of human impacts such as habitat loss, climate change and pollution.