Judges of the Campaign for National Parks’ Park Protector Award have chosen the 'Traditional Boundaries, Traditional Skills' project as the winner of its prestigious award and accompanying £2000 bursary. The project, based in Northumberland National Park (NNP), stood out amongst an excellent shortlist because it combined conservation with job creation, restoring the fragile landscape and creating a legacy of employable traditional skills in the equally fragile economy of the rural north east.
A survey in 2004 showed that within Northumberland National Park over 50% of the 10,000kms of dry stone walls and 75% of the hedges were in poor condition. The NNP Authority’s primary aim was to take action. They developed a five year pilot, 'Traditional Boundaries, Traditional Skills', a rural skills traineeship scheme which trained people in the management and repair of traditional boundaries and associated features such as gates, stiles and fences.
Derek Proudlock, for Northumberland National Park, said, “The Park Protector Award is recognition of the benefits the project has brought to conserving and enhancing the stunning and varied landscape of Northumberland National Park alongside successfully fostering rural micro-businesses in the countryside. It is fantastic to get this award and reinforces our commitment to continuing to look for opportunities to support rural communities and the local economy in and around Northumberland National Park.”
The authority is now working with local schools and universities to provide vocational placements as career pathways to roles which support natural heritage. The bursary will be used to provide funding for such opportunities. “We are delighted that the Traditional Boundaries, Traditional Skills training scheme has won the first ever Park Protector Award. We have seen their skilled 'path pitching' at first hand and their work is exceptionally good,” said Laura Sims for HF Holidays, award sponsor. For more details on the winning project and the shortlisted nominations, go to www.cnp.org.uk/features/park-protector.
The Campaign for National Parks (CNP) is the national charity that campaigns to protect and promote all of the National Parks of England and Wales; CNP celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2011. CNP's Park Protector Award was launched in September 2010 and was open for nominations between September and December. This award was initiated to recognise, reward and celebrate one exceptional project or individual that has made a lasting contribution to the protection, restoration or conservation of our National Parks of England and Wales.