Further Involvement & Ownership

Local Pride and Distinctiveness

National context

Geology, landscape, wildlife and the historic environment all contribute to local distinctiveness and a sense of place. Quality of place is recognised as an essential ingredient for a thriving economy and maintaining sustainable and vibrant communities. Celebrating what is special and unique about a locality plays an important role in bolstering local pride and contributes to community cohesion.

“Our natural environment gives us a sense of place, pride and identity. Nature inspires and moves us. Connecting with nature helps children learn, and improves people’s health and well-being… While the natural environment can do much to benefit our health and education and make our daily lives happier and richer, we also have an opportunity to protect and improve it.” The Natural Environment White Paper (2011)

In the Tees Valley

Varied and distinctive landscapes

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The Tees Valley contains several distinctive landscapes including part of the North York Moors National Park and part of the North Yorkshire and Cleveland Heritage Coast. Most of Tees Valley is within the ‘Tees Lowlands’ National Character Area (as defined by Natural England). This is characterised by a broad low lying plain of gently undulating, predominantly arable farmland, with some pasture and wide views to distant hill. The meandering, slow moving River Tees flows through the heart of the area, dividing the lowlands to north and south giving a contrast of quiet rural areas with extensive urban and industrial development concentrated along the lower reaches of the River Tees, the estuary and coast.

Large scale chemical and oil refining works, dock facilities and other heavy plants along the Tees estuary form a distinctive skyline both day and night. To the south east of the Tees Lowlands lie the North York Moors and Cleveland Hills, an upland plateau landscape dominated by heather moorland, with a series of dales and steep sided river valleys and a dramatic landscape of high sea cliffs and small bays. There is a small area of the Durham Magnesian Limestone Plateau within the borough of Hartlepool and is recognisable by its higher elevation.

The TVNP is responsible for the selection of Local Sites (Geological and Wildlife). These sites represent local character and distinctiveness of wildlife based on selection criteria developed on local geological and ecological knowledge and surveys.

Celebrating traditional orchards of the Tees Valley


Wildflower Ark, with funding through the Heritage Lottery Fund, carried out this community project in 2011/12 which involved extensive research into locating and recording old orchards and a programme of activities to increase awareness and appreciation of the history of fruit growing and orchards in the Tees Valley. They recorded remnants of historic orchards associated with farms and country houses as well as commercial growing centres of the Norton area in the 19th Century. Many orchards remain as valuable habitats for wildlife and contain old varieties of apple and pear that are now endangered.

 North Tees Natural Network

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The Tees is one of the North Sea’s principal estuaries. With its port, industry and large population it is of major significance to the United Kingdom’s economy. It is also internationally important for its bird population and is significant for its wildlife habitats and other animals including seals. The site contains two Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the whole reserve is part of the Teesmouth and Cleveland Coast Special Protection Area (SPA). With the opening of the RSPB’s reserve and Discovery Centre at Salthome  there are increased opportunities for people to experience this distinctive Tees Valley landscape,  where seals can be seen sunbathing against a backdrop of industry.

A number of organisations, including Natural England, Environment Agency, RSPB, Tees Valley Wildlife Trust, Teesside Environmental Trust, Hartlepool Borough Council Stockton Borough Council, Tees Valley Unlimited and INCA representing industry, have formed the North Tees Natural Network Partnership. The Partnership seeks to achieve coordinated management of, and where appropriate access to, nature conservation sites stretching in an arc from the Transporter Bridge to Seaton Carew. The network will showcase how an internationally important wildlife area can exist in harmony with major industry as well as being a valuable resource for people. Plans to enhance access and improve facilities will provide visitors with opportunities to get closer to local wildlife .

Elwick Village Wildlife Atlas

Hartlepool Borough Council worked with the Limestone Landscapes Partnership project on the Elwick Village Atlas. Sponsored by the HLF and Tees Valley Community Foundation, the Village Atlas encouraged and trained people from the Parish to explore and record their wildlife. To facilitate this, the Limestone Landscapes set up a WildWatch website for each of the village atlas areas in the project so that people could record their sightings.

Volunteering, Skills and Training

National context

`Volunteering is one of the most fulfilling ways to experience the natural world. It can also help people develop new skills, solve local problems and develop a sense of local ownership and responsibility. This country already has a strong culture of conservation volunteering, and volunteers play a vital role in helping to monitor and maintain our environment.’ The Natural Environment White Paper (2011)

Volunteers donate time and skills by carrying out a wide variety of environmental projects: wildlife surveys and ecological monitoring, practical nature conservation and access management work, leading and organising learning and participation programmes.
Environmental volunteering has multiple benefits for the natural environment, individuals, communities and the economy. It provides many benefits to both mental and physical health: by increasing self-confidence, combating social isolation and helping people to stay physically healthy through activity. Communities benefit by people working together creating a sense of ownership and responsibility for local wildlife and green spaces. The increased skills and experience gained from volunteering can enhance employability and career prospects of participants. As well as ecological skills and experience, volunteering gives people the opportunity to practice important skills used in the workplace, such as teamwork, communication, problem solving, project planning and management. The natural environment sector also provides training placements apprenticeships and training schemes, many of which lead to recognised accredited vocational qualifications.

In the Tees Valley

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In the Tees Valley there are many opportunities for volunteering: with environmental organisations, local authority projects, wildlife societies  and community led green space groups. The TVNP is developing a Wild Green Spaces project that will improve the natural environment skills base through local volunteer groups, provide opportunities for training in biodiversity identification and recording and nature conservation management and enable young people to gain work based experience potentially leading to nationally recognised qualifications.


Employee volunteering, where staff at all levels donate time and skills during work hours to tackle local social issues, is an effective and powerful way for businesses to invest in their people and local communities. Northumbrian Water Limited has a highly successful employee volunteering programme called Just an Hour. This is a structured programme of involvement in the community designed to impact on education, the environment and the general well being of the community. Since its launch in 2012, Northumbrian Water employees have committed over 70,600 hours in support of local communities. Projects in the Tees Valley included helping to create a shale island using cockle shells at Portrack Marsh – to provide nesting sites for ground nesting wading birds, helping the Boro Becks Project with their Big Beck Clean-Up and installing a board walk and screen at RSPB Saltholme.

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