The standard of entries for the 2016 UK National Parks Volunteer Awards was exceptionally high this year and congratulations are in order to all who were nominated. Below is the short list, with the nominees divided into the following categories: Individual, Project and Group.
Andrew Sinclair, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs:
Andrew Sinclair has been volunteering at Loch Lomond National Nature Reserve for five years, focusing on the identification and control of Invasive Non Native plant species present within the nature reserve and wider National Park area. As well as taking part in weekly volunteer work parties to remove and control the spread of invasive plants, Andrew volunteers alongside staff members carrying out surveys and other work. Andrew is passionate about keeping the reserve clean and tidy and helps with general site maintenance and scrub clearance and gives talks about volunteering, his work and the further environment.
Graham Ryan, Northumberland
Graham Ryan is a Volunteer Supervisor at the Vindolanda Excavations in Northumberland National Park. He has been involved with the Roman archaeological site and prominent landmark for over a decade. Graham works to ensure visitors are welcome to the site, explaining the history and process of discovery, greatly enhancing visitor experiences. Graham is an important resource for both the Trust and Northumberland National Park, mentoring new volunteers every year and helped many people to feel part of a community of a wider scale project.
Jo Minihane, Brecon Beacons
Jo Minihane volunteers at the Visitor Centre in the Brecon Beacons National Park and is an inaugural member of the Volunteer Patrol Team. Jo takes part in practical activities maintaining the grounds as well as leading and mentoring the MIND eco project group that looks after the wildlife garden. Jo is also part of the team that manages the Visitor Centre Carpark and patrols the nearby common, engaging with visitors to the National Park.
Community Science Project, Peak District
The Community Science Project is an innovative volunteer ‘citizen science’ project run by the Moors for the Future Partnership within the Peak District National Park and the South Pennines. The project is all about encouraging communities to take an active role in tracking the effects of climate change on the landscape around them. The project offers volunteer engagement on many different levels and provides opportunities for people from all walks of life to new skills and knowledge.
Pondhead Conservation Trust , New Forest
The Pondhead Conservation Trust is a small conservation charity in the New Forest National Park. The trust was created in 2014 by the local community to restore a unique area of the New Forest. The area of hazel coppice which had never been grazed has been gradually restored to create the New Forest’s first community woodland. The woodland is now completely sustainable, supported fully by its production of BBQ charcoal, a centuries old New Forest industry which had died out.
MIND Eco Group, Brecon Beacons
The MIND Eco group works in partnership with Brecon Beacons National Park Authority to allow volunteers to take part in environmental conservation work. Based at the National Park Visitor Centre volunteers help maintain the wildlife garden, pond, bird box siting as well as going further into the park to train in other rural skills and conservation work. The project enables the MIND service users access to the National Park, allowing them to gain from the positive health benefits of volunteering outdoors.
Nepalese Community Group, Brecon Beacons
The Nepalese Community of Brecon in the Brecon Beacons National Park are giving back to their community by improving and maintaining local footpaths surrounding the town. The small group has grown substantially due to more and more people keen to volunteer and engage in constructive practical work. The visible presence of the work group of all ages has raised awareness amongst other users of how diverse the National Park is, and how everyone can contribute to it.
Sedburgh Community Swift Group, Yorkshire Dales
In the Yorkshire Dales National Park the Sedburgh Community Swift Group are promoting positive ways in which communities can take action to support swifts, a bird in serious decline. Volunteers encourage monitoring of the birds activity, put up nest boxes and advise local developers and planners on conservation measures, aiming for activities to become self-sustaining and spread to other communities. They are now acknowledged experts in swift conservation.