Another record number of volunteer hours for Cotswold Voluntary Wardens

The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens have broken their own record yet again in their work to conserve, enhance and increase understanding of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The wardens, who form the voluntary arm of the Cotswolds Conservation Board, recorded a total 43,652 hours, worth over £280,000, during 2009/10 by 300 active volunteers across the Cotswolds AONB.   Seventy per cent of wardens’ time was spent on conservation and enhancement work, including looking after some of the Cotswolds most distinctive features. Over 130,000m² of unimproved limestone grassland slopes were cleared of invasive plant species, 845m of dry-stone walls were renovated or rebuilt, 1,100m of hedgerows were laid, plus 2,400 hedge plants and 470 trees were planted.  The wardens also facilitated easier access the countryside by installing 46 gates and 120 kissing gates, replacing many wooden stiles, as well as installing bridges, finger posts and clearing thousands of paths, streams, ditches and bridleways.

In addition to their conservation efforts the wardens make a significant contribution to the Cotswolds Conservation Board’s second purpose of increasing the understanding and enjoyment of the Cotswolds AONB. Last year, wardens prepared and led 277 walks which attracted 3,546 local people and visitors. They also attended 37 county shows and gave 25 talks to local organisations.

A key highlight of the wardens’ work last year was the development of a pilot educational project with 11 schools across the AONB. The project is aimed at helping pupils to get out of the classroom, experience their local environment and become more aware of the Cotswolds as a special area.

Cotswolds Conservation Board Volunteer Co-ordinator, Becky Jones, said: “Our wardens are a dedicated and enthusiastic group of people who are passionate about the Cotswolds. By getting involved with such a variety of projects across the whole of the AONB, they help us to reach out to a much wider audience and promote the importance of this very special area.”

Head Warden David Colbourne said:
"Last year was an exceptionally busy time for the wardens. Not only were we involved in a wide variety of conservation work, but I am pleased that we are also making a valuable contribution towards education and training, and encouraging a lot of enthusiastic participation by both teachers and children.”

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, environmental organisations, wildlife charities and many local communities to help conserve, enhance and increase understanding and enjoying of the AONB.
  • The figure of over £280,000 is derived from the Heritage Lottery Fund formula of £6.50 per volunteer hour.
  • The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board – an independent organisation with 37 members, 15 nominated by local authorities, 8 by parish councils and 14 appointed by Government.
  • The Government has designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) 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 second largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District National Park. 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.
  • The Cotswolds AONB is the largest of the family of 47 AONBs in the UK. For further details: