Black Country Geopark

Young people on a four-week work experience programme have exposed hidden geological features at a borough National Nature Reserve.

In a project delivered by The Prince’s Trust as part of their ‘Get Into’ programme with the support of Dudley Council’s countryside services team, 11 young people aged 18 plus have spent the last four weeks at Saltwells National Nature Reserve (NNR).

The programme was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and led by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.

They have worked alongside wardens and volunteers learning all about how to manage open spaces and considering whether it’s a career they want to pursue.

They have carried out woodland management including small tree felling, coppicing and scrub removal, have learnt about the importance of geoconservation and also looked at risk assessments, management planning and environmental legislation.

They have been working to preserve the geology at Saltwells, which is one of the geosites within the Black Country UNESCO Global Geopark, endorsed in 2020 in recognition of the global significance of its geological and cultural heritage.

They have cleared a new geological exposure that has never been seen before, which will now be included within the site’s geo trail.

Councillor Shakespeare with students and staff involved in the project

Councillor Shakespeare (front centre) with students and staff involved in the project

Councillor Karen Shakespeare, cabinet member for public realm at Dudley Council, said:

“This is collaborative working at its best. I’m delighted we have been able to support The Prince’s Trust in this programme and welcome the young people to Saltwells to learn how to care for open spaces.

“Conserving our natural habitats is incredibly important and I hope this experience encourages them, as the next generation, to pursue a career in the environmental profession.

“Having them on site has also been a huge benefit to the reserve. Their work to create a new geological exposure, which has never been seen before is their legacy and one we are incredibly grateful for. This will help inform the team’s knowledge of the site and the evolution of our planet.

“Congratulations to them all for completing their programme with us.”

Sarah Taylor, Youth Development Lead at The Prince’s Trust said:

“The Prince’s Trust is delighted to be partnering with Saltwells on our first Get into Woodlands programme in the Black Country. It has been a fantastic four weeks and a great opportunity for the young people involved.  Thank you to all the staff at Saltwells, we look forward to working with you in the future.”