Council chiefs pledged to protect the county’s treasured landscape during a tour of Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), meeting dedicated Beachwatch volunteers along the way.
Councillor Lisa Chambers, cabinet member for environment and property management, Councillor Mark Bee, leader, and Deborah Cadman, chief executive of Suffolk County Council met staff, volunteers and partners throughout the tour and rolled up their sleeves to take part in a litter pick on Bawdsey beach.
There are 46 AONBs in the UK covering 8,000 square miles, with two areas in Suffolk- Suffolk Coasts and Heaths and Dedham Vale. The AONB team works tirelessly to preserve these areas, and Beachwatch volunteers are key players throughout the year.
Beachwatch is a national scheme, coordinated by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), that aims to clean up Britain’s beaches. Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB have worked closely with MCS for the past eight years to deliver the project on the Suffolk coast.
In Suffolk last year, as a result of the year-round Beachwatch scheme and annual Beachwatch Big Weekend event, 694 volunteers took part collecting over 979kg of rubbish from 33 beaches covering over 45km of the Suffolk coast. 38,579 pieces of litter were collected altogether.
Suffolk volunteers come from all walks of life including schools, local businesses, scouts and guides and dedicated individuals. Regular events have become fantastic social occasions that actively making a difference to the local environment. In Suffolk, there are currently 26 Beachwatch teams – the most teams across the whole of the UK.
Volunteers in the AONBs also get involved in practical habitat management, surveying long distance walking routes and as coast and estuary wardens, acting as eyes and ears for the AONB and its partner organisations.
Councillor Lisa Chambers said; “AONBs are one of the county’s key strengths and natural assets, and we work hard to preserve and enhance its strengths. These are places of social and economic vibrancy and it is so important that we continue to build on them and maximise their value in any way we can.
“Today was a wonderful opportunity for Mark, Deborah and myself to really see what the team and the dedicated volunteers do and how hard they work to protect these places for future generations to enjoy and benefit from.”