Students get stuck in to Northumberland National Park projects

Student volunteers from Newcastle University Conservation Society with Northumberland National Park Rangers, Margaret Anderson and Michael Bolton.
Student volunteers from Newcastle University Conservation Society with Northumberland National Park Rangers, Margaret Anderson and Michael Bolton.

Student conservation societies from two of the UK’s leading universities have been getting stuck in at Northumberland National Park.

National Park rangers welcomed the volunteer groups from Newcastle and Leeds Universities, who joined in with conservation projects at sites across the Park to get some practical work experience.

The Newcastle University Conservation Society got hands-on helping the rangers to thin a woodland area at Walltown Country Park.

The site of a former industrial quarry, the Park Authority has spent almost 20 years restoring the area back to nature, working hard to re-establish natural woodland and habitats.

The conservation value of the work carried out by the volunteers is twofold. Thinning the woodland helps to establish more sustainable habitats for wildlife, while also helping to improve public access for leisure and recreational purposes.

Students from Leeds University took part in a residential weekend of conservation activities, joining rangers at Pundershaw blanket bog, an internationally-important, 6,000-year-old peat bog near Kielder Forest. The group removed Sitka spruce saplings to prevent the peat from drying out and damaging the habitat’s unique water and carbon-capturing abilities.

Dave Richardson, volunteer and apprenticeships development officer at Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “Engaging with groups of young people and teaching them how to care for the environment is an important part of our conservation work, as only through education can we ensure the longevity of the National Park.

“Many people have the misconception that volunteering is only for the older generations, but we actively encourage people of all ages to come and have a go through our various volunteer schemes and young ranger opportunities.

“We were delighted to welcome the student groups from Newcastle and Leeds universities to the National Park and I’d like to thank both groups for their hard work and enthusiasm.”

Northumberland National Park Authority is keen to engage more young people in its volunteering activities and is now recruiting for its spring 2018 Young Volunteer Ranger programme. If you’re aged between 16 and 25 and interested in this placement scheme, visit www.nnpa.org.uk/placements for more details.