Green volunteering proves a winner

A team from the University’s Residential Services has won the NUS Community Action Award at the National Union of Students (NUS) Green Impact Awards 2013-2014.


The award was presented in recognition of the ongoing series of joint volunteer work days between Residential Services and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (YWT) that have taken place on local nature reserves around Leeds. The work complements the joint aims of the University’s Inner North-West Community Strategy and its Biodiversity Action Plan which seek to promote volunteering in the area. 

Activities in the last year include:

  • Hay meadow management at Kirkstall Valley, where volunteers removed cut hay on the former Kirkstall Power Station site to prevent nutrients going back in to the soil. This allows native wildflowers to thrive, whilst suppressing the encroachment of more invasive species.
  • Two sessions of willow coppicing at Esholt Water Treatment Works to provide materials to prevent riverbank erosion on areas of the Upper Aire Valley by forming a living barrier/anchor – a process known as ‘spiling’
  • Woodland and hay meadow management at Ledston Luck, a former colliery site now owned by Leeds City Council and managed by YWT. The site is known for its native orchids, invertebrates and rare breeding birds.

“The events have proved very popular, generating 98 volunteer days of work with 56 individual volunteers attending since 2012. The volunteers are introduced to locations that they might not normally visit and outdoor activities very different to their normal daily work,” says Residential & Commercial Services’ Mike Leonard. “The benefits of team-building and personal well-being are self-evident at the end of each day. All volunteers gain an appreciation of the natural environment around Leeds, and they leave the sites with a positive feeling of having done something really worthwhile.”

Photo shows Mike (l) with Jamie Agombar, Ethical and Environmental Manager for the NUS.

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