YOUNG environmentalists took part in the first youth environment summit centred at Malham Tarn.

Part of the lottery funded Green Futures programme, the weekend event was attended by more than 20 young people aged between 11 and 24 years old.

Making the most of the tarn field centre and other parts of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, they took part in a range of activities including bug surveys, bat detecting and footpath improvement work.

They also did eco-orienteering and learnt how to build bird boxes and 'bug hotels'.

The group also discussed a variety of green issues, developed solutions to reduce waste and how to encourage people to reuse and recycle more.

Also discussed was how to reduce their own carbon footprints and making eco pledges for the future.

19 year old Sian Bentley, from Kendal, said it had been a very worthwhile experience.

“I liked the mix of ages, and learning about the different backgrounds through which people got involved in the environment," she said.

"Everybody was open-minded and eager to share their knowledge and learn new things, and the combination of outdoor, practical activities - such as building bird boxes, path maintenance and bug hotels - that would affect the local environment and the workshops which took a more holistic, global and lifestyle approach was ideal, because often the two aren’t practised together – which is the way forward."

Green Futures is a five year £1 million programme largely funded by the Big Lottery Fund. Its aim is to support and develop environmental opportunities for young people across the region.

It is led by the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) with a partnership of young people and organisations from the area, including the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Field Studies Council, Malham Tarn; Bradford Environmental Education Service (BEES) - part of City of Bradford YMCA; Willow Young Carers Project, part of Barnardo’s Leeds; and Craven Development Education Centre.

Gail Smith, YDMT's green futures programme manager said the first youth environment summit had been an 'absolute joy'.

"The young people involved embraced the issues up for discussion and worked hard at the practical tasks on offer. I came away from the weekend enthused and inspired by this fantastic group of young people and hopeful of the positive environmental action they will be taking on behalf of us all."

She added they were now busy planning ahead.

"We are looking forward to them having an ongoing input into Green Futures and the planning and running of next year’s summit, enabling even more young people to reap the benefits of this fantastic youth environment programme.”

By working together and building on a collective wealth of experience, the Green Futures partnership aims to enthuse and inspire 4,000 young people to connect with their environment around the Yorkshire Dales.

A range of initiatives will help to raise awareness of environmental issues, develop knowledge and skills, and provide exciting hands-on opportunities for young people to get involved and make positive environmental changes, now and in the future.

Green Futures is part of Our Bright Future - a movement of 31 youth-led projects across the UK each receiving around £1m of funding from the Big Lottery Fund to inspire and develop the next generation of environmental leaders.

Cath Hare, Our Bright Future Programme Manager, said: “The first Youth Environment Summit showcased the unstoppable force of young and engaged citizens involved with Green Futures. We are thrilled to be investing in opportunities for them to gain skills, experience and employment as the next environmental leaders.”

Our Bright Future gives young people the skills and knowledge to improve their local environments, influence future environmental policy and step up and create what is rightfully theirs - a healthy planet, a thriving economy and a brighter future.

It is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and run by a consortium of eight organisations, led by The Wildlife Trust. The partnership has more than 40 years of combined experience in managing social and environmental grant programmes totalling nearly £300 million, and has a proven track record of working with and empowering young people in communities of all social circumstances.