Voluntary Wardens enjoy another record-breaking year of achievements

Figures just announced show that last year was another successful and record-breaking year for the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens 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 43,772 hours by 280 active volunteers across the Cotswolds AONB, worth well over £300,000, during 2010/11. Despite a number of work parties and guided walks being cancelled due to persistent bad weather in December, the wardens still managed to surpass their previous year’s total.

Almost seventy per cent of wardens’ time was spent on a variety of important conservation and enhancement work, with the remainder focused on organising and leading guided walks, attending shows and advancing the Education Project.

Voluntary Wardens’ conservation activities during 2010/11 included:

* Over 118,000m² of unimproved limestone grassland across 23 different sites were cleared of invasive plant species
* 9,681 m² of woodland was coppiced and 16,588 m² cleared
* 187 new trees planted, 800 hedge trees and shrubs planted and 905m of hedgerow laid
* 171m of streams and ditches cleared
* 921m of dry-stone walls repaired or rebuilt
* 835m of fencing erected

Wardens also helped to facilitate easier access to the Cotswolds countryside by installing 107 kissing gates and 173 waymark or finger posts; constructing 413 steps in banks and 19 bridges, and clearing 23,291m of footpaths and bridleways.

In addition to their conservation work, 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, the interpretive guided walks programme included 295 walks, 10% more than the previous year, and attracted 4354 people, 20% more than 2010/11.

The Education Project continued to encourage more schoolchildren out of the classroom and into the countryside to explore their environment and become more aware of some of the Cotswolds as a special area. The wardens worked with 13 schools and 387 children across the Cotswolds on activities such as tree identification, fossil hunting and farm-based activities.

Cotswolds Conservation Board volunteer co-ordinator, Becky Jones, said: “It has been another fantastic year for our wardens. Once again we are extremely grateful to them for the thousands of hours dedicated to help look after the AONB and encourage even more people to enjoy and explore our beautiful countryside.”

Head Warden David Colbourne said: "It has been an exceptionally productive year, despite the severe winter that we experienced. Thanks to the professionalism and skills of our many wardens, we have been able to make many significant and tangible contributions to the activities of the Conservation Board throughout the AONB.”


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 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.
  • The Cotswolds is the second largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District National Park and represents 10% of the total AONB area in the UK. 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 46 AONBs in the UK. For further details: www.aonb.org.uk