These are the people who help keep this great project afloat.
Volunteer and Access Officer
I’m Mark Furnell, the Volunteering and Access Officer for the Northumberland Coast AONB, and manage our Coast Care volunteers. I’m passionate about the North-East and the Northumberland Coast AONB– it's exciting to be working alongside volunteers who care so much for this special place. My goal is to help volunteers get involved in projects as well as help improve the AONB both aesthetically and for its biodiversity.
My love of the Northumbrian coast comes from my staycations as a child. Twenty years ago, I studied for my first degree in Environmental Management at Northumbria University and spent some on Lindisfarne NNR completing field studies, I wrote my dissertation on coastal geomorphology.
For the last 13 years, I have been a Ranger looking after Newcastle Parks and mainly countryside sites, of which those first five years were spent running an environmental education and forest school programmein the west end of Newcastle for a wide variety of age demographics. I managed several country parks and nature reserves including the Newcastle section of Hadrian's Way National Trail. I have enjoyed establishing and assisting ‘friends of’ groups, leading volunteer groups-both regular and corporate-on a daily basis to do estate and habitat management.
My other passion is trees. After studying for a National Diplomain Arboriculture and Forestry and Estates Management at Kirkley Hall College in Northumberland, I continued my professional training by gaining my Lantra professional Tree Inspector certificate in 2015.
In my new role, I am keen to make a difference and help maintain the AONB special characteristics of nature and historical legacy. I want to champion the volunteers and empower those that have already poured energy, skills, experience and love into caring for the coast. I am also keen on raising participation in Coast Care to be inclusive to all parts of society.
An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is exactly what it says it is: an outstanding landscape whose distinctive character and natural beauty are so precious that it is in the nation's interest to safeguard them.
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is a statutory designation established by the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. Together with National Parks, AONBs represent the nation's finest landscapes. The primary purpose of the AONB designation is to conserve and enhance natural beauty.
The Northumberland Coast was designated as an AONB in 1958, covering an area of 138 sq km along 64km of the coastline between Berwick-upon-Tweed and the Coquet Estuary.
Northumberland County Council has a statutory duty to ensure that the natural beauty of the Northumberland coast is conserved and enhanced and to prepare a management plan setting how the council's policies for the management of the AONB.
To assist the council in the conservation and enhancement of the Northumberland Coast AONB, the Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership was formed in 2003. Comprising of local people, representatives of statutory agencies and interest groups, the Partnership guides the policies of the council and the work of the staff team.
The role of the Partnership is to pursue and champion the purposes of designation of the Northumberland Coast AONB and to assist in the delivery of the partners' statutory duties and other management aspirations in respect of the AONB.