The Cotswold Voluntary wardens surpassed all previous conservation efforts by working a record number of hours last year.

The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens form the voluntary arm of the Cotswolds Conservation Board, the organisation that exists to oversee the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Hundreds of Cotswold Wardens give up many hours of their time every year to carry out essential practical work across the AONB.

In 2006-7 the wardens worked 40,577 hours, five thousand more than the previous year.

In addition to their conservation efforts such as maintaining well trodden walking routes, building bridges and restoring stone stiles, the wardens lead hundreds of guided walks every year, attend summer county shows and give talks about their work.

Head Warden Colin Boulton said:

"The commitment of the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens is unwavering, year in year out they demonstrate their keen appreciation of and connection with the Cotswold landscape. Their efforts often go unseen but the fruits of their labour are enjoyed by many who visit the area.

Whether it be an easier walking experience along a much loved route or an enjoyable afternoon spent on a guided walk there is no doubt that the benefits the Cotswold Wardens bring to the AONB are significant."

In all during 2006-7, the wardens led 292 guided walks attended by 3,800 people, planted 871 trees, worked on 23 grassland sites, planted 772 metres of hedges and repaired / rebuilt 596 metres of wall. They installed 68 stiles, 105 gates, 22 bridges and 110 steps and cleared 25 kms of path.


Notes to editors:

Working in partnership with other organisations continues to be an important element of the work of the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens Service. They work with local authorities, wildlife trusts, Butterfly Conservation, DEFRA, The Wychwood Forest Project and many local communities.

The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens formed in 1968. There are 340 Cotswold Voluntary Wardens, part of the Cotswolds Conservation Board. The wardens have been leading guided walks in the AONB since 1975.

The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is cared for by the Cotswolds Conservation Board - an independent organisation with 40 members, 17 nominated by local authorities, eight by parish councils and 15 appointed by Government.

The Government has designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and National Parks as our finest countryside and they are recognised as being of national importance.

With its rolling hills and valleys the Cotswolds is the largest of 40 AONBs in England and Wales and is protected to ensure that its beauty and special character are conserved. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.

Press contact: Claire Cunningham

Tel: 01451 862003

Cotswolds Conservation Board Fosse Way, Northleach, Gloucestershire GL54 3JH

Tel: 01451 862000 Website: www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk