30/06/2015
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Heritage Lottery Fund helps Blacktoft Sands

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Blacktoft Sands RSPB, East Yorkshire, can take on more volunteers 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.

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

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, and also in terms of what we are able to offer the general public. This grant should increase the amount of activities we run on-site, providing a chance for people of all ages to come along and enjoy the outdoors and surrounding wildlife in this beautiful setting."


Blacktoft Sands is benefitting thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund (Photo: Andy Mabbet/wiki commons)

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Volunteers will be responsible for the running of events and activities on-site, so members of the local public can learn about, take part in and enjoy the 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."

Participants can look forward to the feeling of community that is created when working with others towards a common cause, and 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 RSPB which is still home to good numbers of breeding Marsh Harriers, Bearded Tits, Sedge Warblers, Reed Buntings and Avocets, as well as hosting breeding Montagu's Harriers this summer. 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.

Written by: RSPB