Volunteering with Moors for the Future Partnership provides an opportunity for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to learn new skills, have fun, get closer to nature and make a real difference to the future our iconic upland moorlands.
Jane Price, who lives in the Peak District, volunteered for our Community Science Project.
Wanting to work in conservation she took early retirement from the NHS. “Volunteering is a brilliant way to get experience and to find out if conservation is for you.”
Learning new skills, taking part in science and getting satisfaction from taking part and knowing that your work is contributing valuable information about the moorland habitat are among the benefits.
"It is something that gives you a buzz," said Jane who has been involved in surveying specific types of bumblebees. She learned to identify different types of bees and improved her observation skills, and enjoyed working together in a team.
By getting close to nature, and learning how to observe and identify the different species Jane has noticed that it has changed the way she sees the moors.
"It has helped me see the moors in a different way and be much more observant about my surroundings."
Data collected and recorded on the national irecord website is shared with conservation organisations at local, regional and national levels.
For Jane meeting new people has been one of the highlights of volunteering. It has also helped her gain valuable experience that led to her taking a casual research and monitoring post, which then led to her getting a part time job with the Partnership as a conservation works officer.
Tony came to us as a volunteer eight years ago. After volunteering for four years, he applied for a job where he has since been involved with around 20 different projects.
“I love the South Pennines and Peak District moors. Even on the coldest, wettest days when the wind is howling, they are still magic places. The moors want you to know who’s in charge and it’s always them” says Tony Rogers, a Moors for the Future Partnership research and monitoring officer.
“I’ve been on these moors in everything from a thin t-shirt to 6 layers and I’ve enjoyed every moment! In fact, the wilder weather days can be some of the most memorable if you go properly prepared”.
“It’s really special to have been part of some of the conservation projects from the beginning and to witness their progress over the years. It really gives me a sense of attachment to these moors as we work to bring them back to health”.
Tony has been involved with the Kinder Edge sphagnum moss planting project since 2015, and this one has been a particular favourite. This project experimented with the different ‘forms’ that sphagnum moss can be applied in. Because of the lack of sphagnum local to Kinder, the sphagnum has to be grown or ‘propagated’.
However, propagated sphagnum doesn’t always come in mossy plant form. It can come in bead form (that look like peas) where each bead can have several different types of sphagnum moss in it. Sphagnum can even come in slime form!
“It is cutting edge research looking into which forms of sphagnum will grow better where. Being part of such change-driving research is amazing and I get excited by each new set of results that come in”.
Tony carries out the research as part of a team of staff and volunteers.
“The staff are really knowledgeable and I’ve learnt a lot working with them over the years; the enthusiasm of the volunteers is inspiring. They don’t have to do this, but they do and they love it and that keeps you smiling”.
Sometimes Tony isn’t in a group and ventures out onto the moors alone (with a dedicated buddy checking on his safety!). With no teammates to keep his morale up during bleak weather or long hikes he has to keep up his own spirits. But that’s not a difficult task for Tony.
“I never feel alone on the moors because there’s always something happening! There’s so much to see, hear and feel. Birds to listen to, mountain hares to watch, and occasional bilberries to taste. You might be separated from humanity, but you’re in the midst of countless wildlife communities. Although, sometimes I do wonder how I’m going to get my fingers to work when the wind chill is particularly severe!”
Tony has been hill walking all his life, but working for the Partnership has allowed him to experience the moors in a different way.
“It’s a real privilege to get to the wilder places away from the footpaths that people rarely have the opportunity to see, and to be there with a purpose, helping to return this special landscape to its former glory”.
When considering his life plans, Tony sometimes wonders when he’ll retire.
“This job is way too good for my mind and fitness to think about retirement yet. I guess it will happen one day but I don’t see retirement on the horizon any time soon, even from the top of Kinder!”
A UK-wide project giving secondary school students the opportunity to take part in real-world climate science