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Heritage Lottery Fund brings new opportunities to RSPB

Last modified: 24 June 2015

Male bearded tit feeding on reed head

Image: Graham Catley

The RSPB Blacktoft Sands reserve near Goole in East Yorkshire is now able to offer more volunteering opportunities to nature local lovers, due to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The grant comes as part of the ‘Saving Marshlands Wetland Heritage and Wildlife Project’, which aims to create a larger work force of volunteers at the reserve, enabling important conservation work and increasing local interest in the wetland habitats once so common in this marshlands area.

The funding worth £45,000 has already helped to transform an old dilapidated storage building into a fantastic new volunteer welfare and training room. It has also helped employ the new Visitor Officer, Charlotte Cullen. Charlotte will be helping to improve Blacktoft’s wildlife experience for the thousands of visitors who flock to the 200ha reedbed site in East Yorkshire.  

Pete Short, Blacktoft Site Manager said: “We are so grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for their help and support, and look forward to the ‘buzz’ that new staff and volunteers will bring to the site. We’re looking forward to increasing our capabilities both on the ground, in terms of practical conservation work, but also in terms of what we are able to offer the general public. This grant should increase the amount of activities we run onsite, providing a chance for people of all ages to come along and enjoy the outdoors and surrounding wildlife in this beautiful setting.”

Volunteers will be responsible for the running of events and activities onsite, so members of the local public can learn about, take an active part in, and enjoy the natural heritage and wildlife of the Marshlands area. They will gain work skills and practical experience, as well as mental and physical health benefits, which are proven to increase when working in natural spaces.

Fiona Spiers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund, Yorkshire and the Humber, said:“This is a fantastic project that will allow people to try their hand at something new and feel the sense of pride and ownership at helping preserve Yorkshire’s natural heritage. We hope the project will inspire local people and visitors to protect our important local heritage for future generations.”

Those that take part can look forward to the feeling of community that is created when working with others for the same cause and other duties will include reedbed cutting,woodland coppicing and maintaining small pools through clearance and excavation.

Before it was widely drained for agriculture the local landscape was once a large marsh that teemed with birds and wildlife but now only fragments of this precious habitat remain. This includes Blacktoft Sands reserve which is still home to good numbers of breeding marsh harriers, bearded tits, sedge warblers, reed buntings and avocets. Staff and volunteers at Blacktoft work tirelessly to protect these species and hope to encourage them all to thrive right across the local marshland area.

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