The Calderdale Countryside Volunteers, a dedicated team responsible for preserving the stunning landscapes of Calderdale, have been honoured with a prestigious accolade. They emerged as the winners in the Nature Recovery category at the esteemed South Pennines Park Awards, held on Friday, May 26, at The Piece Hall in Halifax.

The South Pennines Park Awards aim to celebrate the remarkable beauty of nature and the diverse landscapes found within the expansive South Pennines Park. Encompassing a sprawling area of 460 square miles, straddling the county boundary between Yorkshire and Lancashire, this park is home to a staggering 660,000 individuals.

Given Calderdale’s integral role within the park, the Countryside Volunteers were nominated for their unwavering commitment to the park’s ethos of “looking after nature and each other.” The Nature Recovery Award recognises individuals and organisations that have implemented or are currently engaged in nature recovery initiatives within the South Pennines Park. The award highlights the commendable efforts made by these dedicated volunteers, who prioritise on-ground work and place people and conservation at the forefront of sustainable development.

The Calderdale Countryside Volunteers undertake a wide range of practical activities, including the creation of leaky dams, clearance of foliage to enhance rights of way, biodiversity preservation, tree planting, drainage maintenance, recycling of Christmas trees, path upkeep, management of invasive species, removal of fly-tipping, and installation of footpath signage. They also actively participate in the Calderdale sphagnum moss project, cultivating this plant species to blanket the local moors. This endeavour forms a crucial component of natural flood management and carbon capture. Sphagnum moss helps restore degraded moorlands, absorbs carbon, retains water, prevents the decomposition of deceased plant matter, and ultimately gives rise to peat.

Expressing her delight, Councillor Sarah Courtney, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Towns, Tourism, and Voluntary Sector, extended her heartfelt congratulations to the exceptional volunteers. She commended their well-deserved recognition for their unwavering dedication and enthusiasm, which perfectly aligns with Volunteers’ Week 2023. Councillor Courtney had the pleasure of attending the Council’s Volunteers’ Week celebration event, during which the volunteers’ remarkable achievement was highlighted.

Councillor Courtney went on to express her admiration for the talented and resilient Countryside Volunteers, emphasising their selflessness in braving all weather conditions to preserve the immaculate beauty of Calderdale’s countryside. The borough’s picturesque landscapes serve as a catalyst for thriving towns by attracting visitors and inspiring local residents to engage in outdoor activities. Additionally, the volunteers’ role plays a pivotal part in safeguarding the environment through the implementation of natural flood management strategies and climate action initiatives.

The Council extends its deepest gratitude to the invaluable support offered by volunteers to Council services and community organisations throughout the borough. They warmly encourage anyone with an interest in volunteering to step forward and join their noble cause.