THE army of volunteers who help maintain the North York Moors National Park can be maintained, despite an increasing number of people working beyond the traditional age of retirement, a meeting has heard.

Members of the national park authority heard concerns that without the thousands of hours volunteers were pouring into work such as conservation, it was likely a cloud of uncertainty would envelope some of its key functions.

Cllr David Jeffels called for a campaign to be launched to encourage young people to volunteer, which he said would help them stay fit and healthy in later life.

He said: “Volunteers are absolutely vital to the running of the park, they do an absolutely fantastic job and we are looking to increase our volunteer time input.”

“I am wondering if we are going to be able to recruit and retain the number of volunteers in forthcoming years in view of more people working beyond retirement age and perhaps not having the time and energy to channel into national park activities.”

Officers said recruiting volunteers would be “a growing challenge”, but the authority had responded by focusing on youths and introducing new methods and a volunteer journey, which had seen about 40 volunteers signed up last year, on top of the 600 or so existing volunteers.