NOVEMBER 24, 2008: A multi-million pound initiative has been launched to boost the number of volunteers who protect England’s nature and wildlife.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn unveiled Defra’s £2m scheme aimed at boosting the number of people who volunteer for conservation work. It will include a £750,000 campaign by Defra to increase conservation volunteering for local projects, such as creating and maintaining ponds, putting up bird and bat boxes, nature walks and planting.However, Defra will also provide more than £1million to fund the improved recording of local wildlife across England, so that higher quality information can be collected. Defra has already increased the number of local wildlife records publicly available from eight million in 2004 to more than 30 million this year.‘More people are getting involved in environmental volunteering, there was a 31 per cent increase between 2000 and 2007, but overall the number is still relatively low,’ explained Mr Benn, as he announced the funding.‘Conserving biodiversity is not something government can do alone, and I want more people to have the opportunity to protect and take pride in their local wildlife and landscape.’

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