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The Cotswolds is renowned for its beautiful countryside and diverse wildlife, and contains dramatic rolling hills and valleys, all crisscrossed by rivers and streams. There are also protected wetlands, lakes, meadows and even rare historical sites. Designated in 1966 as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you might think that this wonderful area naturally maintains itself, but actually, the Cotswolds requires steady upkeep and constant involvement to make sure that future generations can enjoy the scenery. This takes dedication, time and money from a huge range of volunteers, and constant community and business involvement.
There are many ways that volunteers can get involved in the upkeep of the Cotswolds; whether you prefer the hands on approach of getting down and dirty, or if you’d rather you can sponsor an endangered species, or you can simply leave a donation, we’ve listed all the ways you can help below:
For those who love the outdoors, feel connected to nature and want to help preserve their countryside, why not consider becoming a Cotswold Voluntary Warden? This is a brilliant way to support the local area and really get involved on the upkeep of your surroundings. Their membership currently stands at 350 so it’s a pretty well established group, and all you need to join is a keen interest in the Cotswolds. And there are literally tons of projects and volunteer opportunities you can involved in; from wall repairs, tree planting, guided walks, hedge laying, installing kissing gates, pond restoration and helping to educate school children. You’ll get specialised training, equipment and expenses and get to contribute in a positive and hands-on way.
If you can spare a regular amount of time and you live near the Cotswold Water Park then check out what the conservation volunteers do. Groups of volunteers meet once a month on Sundays and Wednesdays, to tackle every type of conservation tasks, which include footpath maintenance, surveying, hedge laying, coppicing and reedbed management. If you can’t commit to regular involvement, there are also opportunities for one-off tasks, these could be as far ranging as sending out memberships, bird monitoring, checking bat boxes or simply welcoming visitors to the site.
Those wanting to take a more serious role in Cotswold conservation should apply to the Wychwood Project, as they are currently looking for two new trustees. Situated in the Forest of Wychwood, the project covers around 120 square miles and enables the local people to fund raise via sponsored walks, hosting special events, or even dedicating new trees to loved ones, all in order to protect and conserve this special area of beauty.
And speaking of Wychwood, the Wychwood Wild Garden lies close to the village of Shipton-under-Wychwood in Oxfordshire and contains 12 and a half acres of wonderful woods and gardens. This area is completely owned and managed by the local community, and provides a much welcome place to relax for residents and visitors alike. Within the Wild Garden you can find many species of wildlife that live in the woods, ponds and meadows, all informally set out and managed with minimum interference. The current Wild Garden projects include restoration of the historical ha-ha, planting mixed hedgerows and tagging significant trees. You can get involved and have a great day out, meeting like-minded people in stunning surroundings, all in the knowledge that you are doing your bit for the area.
If wetlands are your thing then check out the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), which is personally endorsed by Sir David Attenborough and is a globally renowned institution. The WWF covers over 2,600 hectares of wetland area and to date, they have over 200,000 members. WWF offer many ways for people to help preserve the important wetlands in this area; you can adopt a wetland with a regular donation each month, or you can sponsor a rare species of animal. With these donations the WWF are able to carry protect and create new wetlands, provide care for threatened species, manage the population in the area and carry out important maintenance work.
Another institution that offers donations as a way of preserving the Cotswolds is the Friends of the Cotswolds, who rely heavily on funding from the general public. The FotC organisation was set up to benefit the people who live in this area by allowing them to contribute to the upkeep of their surroundings. Their work includes maintaining the 4,000 miles of dry stonewalls in the Cotswolds, building suitable housing for wildlife such as bird boxes, replanting the verges and hedgerows that criss cross the area and restoring heritage sites. You can set up a regular donation or make a provision in your will to leave a legacy. Or if you’d like to be a little more proactive, and you have your own business, why not keep a FotC collection box visible for your customers.
If you are visiting the area and are looking for some beautiful Cotswold Cottages then please take a look around our website or call us on 01993 824 252 to make an enquiry and let our knowledgeable staff assist you in finding the right accommodation for your – Escape to the Cotswolds.