Young and old can all pitch in to improve local biodiversity, says Kate Ponting

PUBLISHED: 08:00 16 July 2020

Kate Ponting, countryside learning officer at Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust. Picture: Matt Austin

Kate Ponting, countryside learning officer at Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust. Picture: Matt Austin

Matt Austin

Not everyone is littering the East Devon beauty spots, writes Kate Ponting, countryside education officer at Clinton Devon Estates

Whilst it has been shocking to see the mass littering of the beaches and countryside areas, thankfully there are still more people keener to improve their local spaces than to spoil them.

Volunteer numbers have seen a big boost recently, with students, families and furloughed staff joining the active retired to undertake worthwhile local conservation and biodiversity initiatives with the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust.

When Colyton Grammar School student, Matthew Williams’ volunteering opportunity was hit by coronavirus, he looked for an alternative that could be completed as part of his daily exercise.

Matthew, who is working towards his Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award, and he chose to pull Himalayan balsam on the river below Otterton, where this invasive plant is doing its best to take over the riverbank. Along with his family, he spends two hours a week pulling up balsam plants, helping to make space for native wildflowers to grow.

Being furloughed and fed up, wasn’t an option for LED employee Tracey Rowe, either. She was pleased to find something worthwhile to keep her active until her work patterns return to normal. Weekly volunteering has enabled Tracey to explore new places and work alongside volunteers of all ages. She even persuaded her teenage daughter to join in too.

Volunteer work parties take place every Wednesdays and occasional other weekdays or Saturdays. Tasks are rewarding but straightforward and suitable for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness. Safe distancing can be maintained as most tasks require it and all work is out of doors.

If you have extra time on your hands this summer and would like to volunteer independently or in small organised groups, all that is needed is some gloves and a little enthusiasm. Contact for more information.

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