The residents of County Durham are being urged to volunteer and contribute to the preservation of their local countryside.
Durham County Council has dedicated £2.3 million to enhance parks and countryside locations throughout the county, such as nature reserves, local wildlife sites, and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
A portion of this investment is allocated to employing new officers who will oversee these sites and facilitate community engagement, volunteer efforts, and educational programs. Their goal is to inspire individuals of all ages to take responsibility for their environment.
With the support of these additional staff members, the Parks and Countryside Service can undertake a greater range of tasks across the 1,300 hectares of land they manage. This includes collaborating with volunteers on various 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.