WILDLIFE campaigners fear that government cuts will inevitably damage the service they can offer to East Lancashire’s beauty spots.
Bosses at Lancashire Wildlife Trust have spoken out in the wake of confirmation that the county council will lose 2,000 positions over the next two years.
And with the Environment Agency and Natural England also bearing the brunt of the coalition’s spending curbs, chief executive Anne Selby is concerned their activities will be curtailed.
Not only does the trust run the flagship Brockholes nature reserve, in Samlesbury, but the organisation also looks after sites like Pleasington’s Old Hall Wood, Foxhill Bank, at Oswaldtwistle, Cross Hill and Salthill quarries, near Clitheroe, and Upper Coldwell Reservoir, on the outskirts of Colne.
Mrs Selby said: “We understand that these local authorities and government organisations have no choice but to make reductions - the fear is that environment will take the brunt.
“We are receiving many offers to take over land and parks. This shows that the wildlife trust is held in high esteem.
“But it is not a simple case of land management. It also involves engaging communities and recruiting volunteers – without funding this is difficult to say the least.”
Around 1,000 volunteers are now part of schemes run by the trust, which they claim is a result of government training schemes closing, and more referrals from GPs.
And the trust boss is worried that less Whitehall assistance will hamper its funding efforts - a five-year volunteering initiative backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund has now ended and there will be increased competition for in-demand charity grants.
Mrs Selby added: “The Prime Minister is keen on promoting the Big Society and volunteering plays a major role in this.
“However without the necessary funding the Big Society will fall short of its targets and vulnerable people – and wildlife – will be the ones who suffer.”