The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough, Councillor Audrey Wales MBE, is encouraging residents to ‘give volunteering a go’ in 2017.
She said: “Our ‘Friends Of’ volunteer groups undertake a wide range of tasks such as nest box building, tree planting, river cleans, invasive species removal and wildflower planting.
“These groups are a great opportunity to get outside in the fresh air, meet like-minded people and learn new skills, all the while protecting and improving your local green space.”
Cllr Wales added: “Volunteering can help people to gain confidence and self-esteem and can also have health benefits by being active outdoors. Volunteering provides huge opportunities to enhance your CV to impress future employers or help with university applications. And of course, it can be great fun.”
Indeed, the Mayor has herself joined the Friends of Bashfordsland Wood and Oakfield Glen and got involved in their bird ringing tasks.
Cllr Wales explained: “Bird ringing is the attachment of small numbered tags to the leg or wing of a wild bird to enable individual identification. Ringing birds allows us to learn how long our birds live and when and where they move – information which is important for bird conservation.
“It was great to see so many birds on site, including a rare find – a treecreeper. The ‘Friends of’ volunteers record the birds on site each year,” she said.
The Friends of Bashfordsland Wood & Oakfield Glen will continue to meet on the second Saturday of each month at Oakfield Community Centre 10am (to 1pm).
Friends of Ecos Nature Park, meeting at Ecos Centre, 10am (to 12noon) on Sat 21 Jan, Sat 18 Feb, Sat 18 March
Friends of Larne Town Park will meet at Bankheads Lane, 2pm (to 4pm) on Saturday 21 January 18 February and Saturday 18 March.
Friends of Carnfunnock Country Park meet at the visitor centre 10am (to 1pm) on Saturday 28 January, 25 Feb and 25 March.