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News Natural England awards our volunteers for conservation work

Natural England awards our volunteers for conservation work

Natural England has rewarded a group of 17 enthusiastic land managers from across the West Midland area with a Conservation Award in recognition of their outstanding efforts to enhance habitats for wildlife.  

Winners included farmers, landowners, and small volunteer groups who have done remarkable things to improve wildlife and recover nature. In gratitude to these unsung local heroes, Natural England hosted an awards ceremony and lunch on 20 February at the Wyre Forest discovery Centre near Bewdley. 

Natural England’s Chief Scientist, Dr Tim Hill, who presented the awards said:

“It is the dedication of Volunteers and Land Managers to take the initiative to improve the natural environment that means wildlife and flora can thrive locally.”

Emma Johnson, Area Manager for the West Midlands team, said:

“There are a wide range of individuals working away in the background to help recover nature. Their actions are improving life for wildlife and for people in the area, only too often their efforts are unnoticed and unrewarded. We wanted to say thank you for their commitment and dedication, it really is making a difference.”

Amongst the winners we are proud to share that there were five award winners from two of our Foresters’ Forest projects!

This is what their nominees had to say:

Award winners Becky Favier and Hannah Booth, Foresters' Forest ‘Waterways and Ponds’ project volunteers based in Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. Nominated by Alisa Swanson, of Natural England, who said:

“Becky and Hannah volunteered to work with Alisa as part of the Foresters' Forest landscape project to improve the data we hold for headwaters in the Forest of Dean. They have spent endless hours in their own time staring at their computer screens. Becky has been mapping the obstructions along the Cannop Brook and Hannah has been undertaking analysis of habitat data collected in the previous two years. As a result of their fantastic work we now can start prioritising the obstructions we need to remove to deliver an extra 500metres of continuous natural headwaters. They have both moved to pastures new but it was great to have their input over the last year and half. Their positive, can-do attitude and determination to complete the task was a valuable resource that makes a big difference to Natural England's ability to deliver for the natural environment.”

Our other winners are Lucy Smith, Gerry O'Brien and David Priddis (pictured), all volunteers for Foresters' Forest ‘Batscape’ project. They were nominated by Sarah Howells and Jude Smith, of Natural England who said:

“Lucy and Gerry have been outstanding volunteers on the Batscape Project, and great advocates for the work we're doing.  They are both very knowledgeable, capable, and keen to learn and get involved. They have a strong passion for protecting bats and enhancing the habitats they rely on.

Lucy and Gerry have contributed many hours of volunteering on the 2019 Greater Horseshoe bat radio-tracking study. They went over and above what was required of them and stepped in at critical times when others dropped out. This involved being up and alert all night for several nights running. They have also both put considerable time into hedgerow surveys, helping us gain a better understanding of the condition of the hedgerow network. 

David Priddis is a local bat expert and has provided an immense amount of support to the development and delivery of the Batscapes Project. He has put in many hours as a volunteer, both in the Littledean radio-tracking study and on the wider project. David has studied the Greater Horseshoe bats at the maternity roost near Littledean since 1986 and took a very active part in the 2019 radio-tracking, leading on hand netting in the roost in June, helping with the catch in August and assisting with the tracking over a number of nights in both study periods. He has also unstintingly undertaken counts of bats at key maternity roosts for Lesser and Greater Horseshoe bats over many years and the data he has collected is extremely valuable.”

It is wonderful to see our volunteers recognised by Natural England for their significant contribution to these conservation projects. We thank and congratulate them!

 
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