Summer helper Aug 2014Minsteracres Retreat Centre, near Consett, is looking for people with an interest in the environment to help manage its 110 acre estate of pasture and woodland.

Geoff Bockett, operations manager at the Christian centre, said: “We’re looking for people who already have, or would like to develop, skills in woodland management, fence building, dry stone walling, pond clearing and path laying, among others.”

“Part of our estate is ancient woodland, charted on maps going back centuries. In fact two of the oak trees are over 500 years old. In recent years though, the woodland has become choked by invasive species.”

To ensure the long term survival of the woodland, work has begun to plant natural species including English oak, Scots pine and Downy birch.

The aim is to reverse the decline in woodland birds, increase the numbers of red squirrels on site, and protect the plant species on the ground which thrive in the ancient woodland.

Geoff Bockett said: “There is no short term fix. The work which began this year is planned in phases up to 2032 and we need help to achieve our plan. In exchange for their work, we will give volunteers an understanding of the environment and what they can do to help, as well as practical skills, some of which they can use for themselves, like making benches and habitat boxes.”

“Despite what you may think, age is no barrier. Everyone can benefit from working outdoors, and the work can be as light or heavy as the individual can manage.”

To find out more contact Minsteracres on 01434-673248 or e-mail our Volunteer Co-ordinator, Jean Haldane.

Andy and Michael and Malcolm with tea and tractor