Countryside Volunteers' winter workout
While other places may quieten down during the cold and wet winter months, East Devon District Council’s Countryside rangers and their team of over 100 volunteers are busy maintaining nature reserves and carrying out vital conservation work.
This winter, volunteers are working on a range of projects, including hedge laying at Knapp Copse, scrub clearance at Trinity Hill and site improvements to Seaton Marshes, part of the Seaton Wetlands nature reserve. This is a busy time for conservation work as projects can take place with less disruption to visitors and wildlife.
Councillor Tom Wright, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for the environment, commented: ‘’We really value the work of our volunteers who help maintain the countryside come rain or shine all year round! Their hard work and commitment helps ensure that the countryside is preserved for local people, wildlife and visitors for years to come, so that East Devon continues to be the truly outstanding place we all love.’’
Countryside team leader (People), Tim Dafforn said: “Last year our conservation volunteers contributed more than 2,500 hours of work on the district council’s nature reserves. This work helps to encourage biodiversity and improve access so that the reserves can be enjoyed by local residents for many years to come. The range of wildlife found during on-site surveys in 2017, including dormice, adders and bats, is testament to their contribution.’’
The Seaton Wetlands Tuesday Task Force meet each week under the guidance of Countryside ranger, Dave Palmer. The group works together to maintain boardwalks, installs fencing and clears pathways so that Seaton Wetlands is accessible for all visitors and an attractive haven for wildlife.
The East Devon conservation volunteers meet each Thursday at East Devon nature reserves across the district. Throughout January the conservation volunteers will be working with Countryside ranger, Nathan Robinson to lay hedges at Knapp Copse and to clear scrub at Trinity Hill Local Nature Reserve.
Tim added: “As well as conserving our outstanding East Devon environment individual volunteers benefit from the social aspects of working as a team, and the health and wellbeing benefits of being active outdoors. One regular volunteer said he was baffled why anyone would buy a gym membership when they could spend time helping wildlife and exercising at the same time in ‘nature’s green-gym’!’’
East Devon Conservation Volunteer, Phil Lee, said: “It’s amazing what a group of volunteers can achieve, and what fun we can have doing it. I really enjoy the sense of achievement of a job well done and have made new friends and learnt new skills through volunteering. I’d encourage people of all abilities to find out about volunteering to help make a difference in the countryside, as everybody can partake at whatever level they like.’’
The East Devon District Council Countryside team manages ten nature reserves for the benefit of local people and wildlife. For more information on the work of the team and volunteering opportunities visit wildeastdevon.co.uk. The team can be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01395 517557.
Photo caption: The East Devon Conservation Volunteers Hedge laying at Knapp Copse