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Working to conserve each others' country

By This is Kent  |  Posted: October 22, 2010

Channel hop: French and English volunteers are working together to conserve natural habitats in both countries

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VOLUNTEERS from the White Cliffs Countryside Partnership (WCCP) and the Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership have taken a trip across the Channel to work with counterparts in France.

The group joined with volunteers – known as Les Blongios – to work on French chalk grassland sites earlier this month.

With sponsorship from Eurotunnel, the English volunteers travelled to Hallines, near St Omer in the Pas-de-Calais region.

During the weekend of October 9 and 10 they worked with Les Blongios and the Parc Naturel Régional des Caps et Marais d'Opale to maintain and improve two chalk downland sites.

WCCP project leader Paul Willmott said: "We had a good time, with good weather, meeting people we had worked with before. We all enjoyed the weekend.

The volunteer exchange is organised as part of the Landscape and Nature for All project, funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

The aim is to improve the environment of "transfrontier" regions of the European Union. As part of this scheme, the WCCP has been working with French and English partners to improve sites on both sides of the Channel, and providing bilingual information to encourage people to explore the countryside.

Members of Les Blongios will be visiting Dover to help with conservation work at the Western Heights on November 20 and 21.

Further volunteer exchanges are planned in February and March 2011. Everyone is welcome, although places will be offered to regular volunteers first.

For details, pick up the free Discover Dover, Folkestone and Romney Marsh booklet from the WCCP on 01304 241806, or go to www.whitecliffscountryside .org.uk

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