What have the Volunteers done this year for the Quantocks....
From the end of March 2017 to the end of March this year volunteers contributed an incredible 4,169 hours to the AONB. Volunteers are an integral part of the AONB team- much of the work of the AONB team could not be done without their support.
We have 85 volunteers working with our team who undertake a wide variety of tasks on behalf of the AONB. Here’s a snapshot of what they get up to:
Our volunteers undertake wildlife surveys across the AONB throughout the year- this year was the first time we were able to take part in the UK Butterfly Monitoring Schemes survey both at Fyne Court and Cothelstone Hill- thanks to a dedicated new team of volunteers who set out every week to take part in the transects. Other wildlife surveys our volunteers have been involved in this year have included bat monitoring, dormice surveys and the annual deer count.
Practical conservation work
We are lucky enough to have a large team of volunteers who take part in practical conservation work across the AONB, helping us to protect and enhance its special qualities. Our volunteers take part in a range of tasks including hedge-laying, vegetation management, coppicing and even Swaling! Some of our practical conservation work is done in partnership with the National Trust - our Quantock Countryside Volunteers - allowing even more work to be achieved across the AONB and sharing resources.
We have a dedicated team of Volunteer Rangers who act as ‘eyes and ears’ for us out on the Hills. They regularly patrol key visitor areas such as Lydeard Hill and report back issues such as fly tipping, damage to visitor infrastructure or misuse of the Hills. Our Volunteer Rangers also act as ambassadors for us taking part in public events, running information points, litter picking and running guided walks.
Nature and Wellbeing
As part of the Somerset AONBs Nature and Wellbeing Project we have a team of volunteers who support the projects work by attending project sessions and acting as a friendly and welcoming presence for those attending. This team of community engagement volunteers work with a wide range of people from different backgrounds and helping those who will benefit the most from the Hills to get out and enjoy them. The AONB also runs a regular ‘Working Well Group’.
If you are walking at Cothelstone Hill make sure you check out the hard work of the Working Well Group who have been repairing the dry-stone wall along the Rap footpath. This group work at Cothelstone Hill once a month as part of the AONB's Nature and Wellbeing Project and have been repairing the wall for 4 months this year. The work has been formed in partnership with the MIND mental health charity, focusing on working with those whose physical and mental wellbeing will benefit from being out in the AONB.
We have a team of 30 volunteers who monitor and check the state of the AONB's scheduled monuments twice a year. The results of their surveys are fed back to Historic England which in turn influences the management of the monuments. This year the volunteers have been out in full force this summer checking the state of the scheduled monuments found within the AONB. Example of this work this year include vegetation clearance on Beacon Hill and repair work to one of the cairns on Great Hill. This work is a direct result of the results of our volunteer’s surveys. The team have spent over 99 hours spent surveying/looking for the monuments so far- with 31 adult volunteers, two under 18s and 3 dogs involved in survey work!
This really is only a snapshot of what our volunteers get up to- so we would like to take this opportunity on International Volunteer Day to say a big thank you for all their hard work and dedication to the AONB.