Investment supports countryside volunteering in County Durham

Jul 5, 2023 | Leisure & Lifestyle

People in County Durham are being encouraged to volunteer to help look after their countryside.

Durham County Council has invested £2.3 million into its parks and countryside sites across County Durham, including nature reserves, local wildlife sites and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

Part of the investment is supporting new officers who will manage sites and support community engagement, volunteering, and educational programmes in order to encourage people of all ages to look after their environment.

The extra staff are allowing more work to be done across the 1,300 hectares of land the Parks and Countryside Service cares for, including working with volunteers on a variety of countryside maintenance activities.

Cllr Mark Wilkes, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change, said: “Our new volunteer, community, education, and nature reserve officers are having a hugely positive impact within the county. We have seen a significant increase in the number of active volunteers supporting the estate since the additional investment was made.

“Our volunteers don’t just get involved in site management tasks, but also lead guided walks and other community initiatives, helping to strengthen local connections to nature. Our oldest volunteer is 94 with our youngest community helpers being of school age.

“Countryside volunteering is a great chance to get out and about, have a chat, do some exercise, and help improve our nature reserves, country parks, railway paths and picnic areas.”

The new investment has been made in response to the climate and ecological emergencies declared by the council and supports the delivery of its Local Nature Recovery Strategy and Climate Emergency Response Plan.