Head Warden’s Report 2011-2012

The figures in this report once again show the warden service going from strength to strength in carrying forward the key objectives of the Conservation Board.

The work parties have been busier than ever, both with maintaining the footpath and bridleway network and as a flexible, competent and adaptive labour force helping other organisations in the Cotswolds. Our ability to turn out large numbers to complete a daunting project in one or two sessions has proved very valuable to Wildlife Trusts, the National Trust, parish councils and many others. But much of the increase of 8% in work party hours has been small teams of 3 or 4 wardens dispersing to a large number of smaller tasks. It is likely that such flexible working will increase as the funding for large scale projects becomes more difficult, and our ability to respond quickly to changing demand will become even more important.

Guided walks continue to provide an excellent way of passing on an understanding of the unique nature of our area and what is needed to keep it in prime condition for everybody. We have run an increasing number of “special” walks, where we use our leading skills to co-operate with other expert individuals and organisations to examine specialised aspects of the Cotswolds. The numbers attending walks have continued to increase, in some cases to the point where we are having to take special measures such as using extra trained wardens to maintain the safety and quality of the experience.

Education, as the newest formal strand of our activity, continues to develop (hours up 10%) with many different options being tried in different areas. Hugely successful day-long events with local primary schools have continued, but we also have wardens helping with or running after-school nature clubs, work parties building nature facilities in schools, and most recently wardens giving school assemblies.

The parish wardens are the eyes and ears of the service and the contact point at the start of many of our activities. We will continue our efforts to make sure that there is a parish warden in every parish, unless there is already a parish council equivalent with whom we can work directly. Every Cotswold parish will, we hope, have a direct and easy contact with the warden service (but it is a big AONB!)

The warden service is almost unique in that it is very largely self-managing and administering (which helps its quickly responsive nature), and it would not be right to omit note of the many hours of “back office” work that has made possible our delivery of over £300,000 worth of work in the last year.

Many people have helped in our achievements. We are most grateful to the Board for continuing to provide the key resources and the staff have been unfailing in their support. Becky Jones in particular has worked tirelessly on our behalf. And finally I must express our thanks for the heroic efforts of my predecessor, David Colbourne, whose final duty in post has been the arduous task of preparing this document.

Simon Mallatratt
Head Warden

Click here to download detailed statistics of the work of the wardens during 2011/12