All in a day’s work as Peak Partners boost their conservation skills

Hardworking businesspeople swapped roles for a day as they got to grips with conservation tasks with the Peak District National Park Foundation.

The group – all members of the Foundation’s Peak Partners scheme for businesses – helped to clear invasive rhododendron bushes close to Derwent Dam in the Upper Derwent Valley.

A montage of images from a Peak Partners volunteering day

Staff from mountain sports brand Mammut; Peak Walking Adventures and Portaway Minerals, took part in the corporate event.

They were joined by the Foundation’s fundraising development manager, Sarah Slowther, and fundraising development officer, Claire Barlow.

Peak Park Conservation Volunteers (PPCV) assistant Tom Gillott led the work of clearing a large area of rhododendron bushes to allow native species to flourish.

Claire Barlow said: “Wow, what a day! It was hard work to cut down and clear this invasive plant. But it was so rewarding to see the area looking clear after a full day of work, and in such a beautiful place. Thank you to the Peak Partners who came along to help.

“Rhododendron is a plant that many people think is pretty but may not realise the problems it causes. Introduced into the country during the 18th century, it has spread from gardens out into our natural landscapes.

“If left unchecked, this vigorous plant can overtake whole areas, blocking out light and space to all other plants and trees. Not only is this bad for the native plants that cannot compete but, as the rhododendron doesn’t provide feeding or habitat for native birds and other wildlife, its spread has a negative effect on delicate eco-systems in the National Park. It can also carry plant diseases that can have a significant effect on our beautiful larch trees. Once the rhodedendron is cleared, a range of native species will begin to re-fill the space that is opened up.”

The Peak Partners scheme helps businesses to give back to the National Park. Through the scheme, businesses can link to the work of the Foundation, with the aim of working towards a National Park that is enjoyed and conserved by everyone. There is a strong focus on corporate volunteering for Peak Partner businesses – connecting staff to practical conservation in the Peak District and explaining why National Park landscapes need to be protected.

Rachel Bolton from Peak Walking Adventures who attended the day comments: “Volunteering for this event was incredibly rewarding and gave me a sense of being part of a very worthwhile charity and giving something back towards the conservation of such a beautiful area. It was a wonderful opportunity to network with others who are part of the Peak District and make myself known to the Foundation. Hard work but great fun!”

To find out more about the Peak District National Park Foundation’s Peak Partners scheme visit www.peakdistrictfoundation.org.uk/peak-partners