Visitors to the Forestry Commission’s Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest, near Goudhurst, Kent, can expect to see further improvements to the site and facilities this Spring following the combined efforts of volunteers over three very busy and successful days of volunteering activities at the popular outdoor visitor attraction.
Supported by Bedgebury staff, the activities began on Friday when the Friends of Bedgebury Pinetum welcomed a group of 72 individuals from London based firm, DP9 Limited, on a corporate team building day at Bedgebury. The group undertook various volunteer activities during the morning, and were rewarded with a fabulous lunch in the Bedgebury Café, followed by a choice of fun activities in the afternoon which included cycling with Quench and tree top adventure with Go Ape.
Some of the group spent the morning working with the regular band of Bedgebury Forest Cycle Club (BFCC) volunteers to upgrade a section of the Bedgebury mountain bike trail. Working together they moved more than 15 tonnes of road stone creating new track covering a distance of around 150 meters.
John Allen, Bedgebury Operations Manager, said,
“In total, the DP9 group achieved the equivalent of one individual working constantly for three weeks with their morning’s contribution on the trail and in the Pinetum which is amazing. Once re-opened, the new section of mountain bike trail will make our visitors’ experience even better; something that we are keen to ensure. “
Other members of the group helped Bedgebury staff by preparing the ground for planting around newly created beds at the Visitor Centre and clearing scrub and invasive species in and around the Pinetum which will also allow for new planting.
Kathy Jary, Friends of Bedgebury Pinetum Manager, said,
“From the Friends’ perspective, the day was a huge success. Not only was DP9’s on site contribution hugely appreciated, but their financial contribution will ensure further funds can be applied to grants for future on-site projects, supporting the Friends charitable objectives.”
Over the next two days, work continued on the mountain bike trail with the ongoing support of the Bedgebury Forest Cycle Club volunteers. Working with the Bedgebury team they helped to design, layout and then sub surface 432 meters of new trail. Covering a record distance for a build week, the team moved over 100 tonnes of material with volunteer help.
Justin Sheffield, BFCC Trail Development Officer, said,
“The club really appreciates the opportunity to work with the Forestry Commission. It gives our members and volunteers a great way to contribute to the development and building of the trails that they enjoy riding so much. This section in particular is getting delivered in record time thanks to everyone working together.”
Finally, the regular and dedicated Sunday Working Group volunteers returned to Bedgebury to complete the weekend’s efforts by planting up the newly prepared beds around the Visitor Centre.
Patrick West, Bedgebury Manager, said,
“There is nothing more powerful than people’s enthusiasm, commitment and drive to achieve such positive results and this has been clearly demonstrated with the resounding success of this weekend’s achievements, with volunteers and business partners all working together.”
Bedgebury is cared for by the Forestry Commission for people, wildlife and trees.
Details of all volunteering opportunities at Bedgebury can be found on the Forestry Commission website at www.forestry.gov.uk/bedgebury.
Notes to Editor
1. Open all year Bedgebury National Pinetum & Forest is home to the National Conifer Collection. The 128-hectare (320-acre) site is recognised as one of the most complete collections of conifer trees and plants on one site anywhere in the world, containing more than 12,000 trees, including rare, endangered and historically important specimens. Staff travel the world to collect seeds from rare and endangered species for propagation, and are supported in this work by the Friends of Bedgebury Pinetum. It is a key partner in Fauna & Flora International’s Global Trees Campaign, and makes a major contribution to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation co-ordinated by Botanic Gardens Conservation International. It does this by collecting endangered seeds from all over the world to bring back to Bedgebury for propagation.
More than 2000 tree and shrub seedlings are grown at Bedgebury every year, some of which are planted on site. Surplus seedlings and plants are distributed to other botanic gardens and safe sites across the UK and Europe, and it provides seed to the Millennium Seed Bank. Bedgebury works to conserve species identified in the UK Red Data Book as in need of particular conservation effort.
The Pinetum also offers a beautiful setting for peaceful walks and picnics, whether wrapping up on a cold frosty morning, or enjoying a beautiful day of sunshine, and seasonal trails explaining more about the Pinetum can be followed throughout the year.
Bedgebury Forest covers around 800 hectares (2000 acres) of forest and offers facilities for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy activities such as adventure play, walking, cycling, mountain-biking, running, and horse riding; and it has a Go Ape high-ropes adventure trail. Seasonal events are also offered throughout the year.
The Bedgebury Visitor Centre serves both the National Pinetum and Forest. Recently refurbished it now includes a stunning Atrium containing beautiful interpretation relating to Bedgebury’s conservation work, and the Bedgebury Cafe provides a full range of hot and cold refreshments and features new improved catering facilities. There is also a cycle hire shop (including adapted cycles and a bike wash area), a visitor information centre and a classroom/community room, toilets and showers.
Information about Bedgebury National Pinetum & Forest is available from www.forestry.gov.uk/bedgebury, www.facebook.com/bedgeburypinetum and www.twitter.com/BedgeburyP by phone to 01580 879820, or by email to email@example.com
2. The Friends of Bedgebury Pinetum is a charity that supports the Forestry Commission in its management of Bedgebury as a world-class centre of conifer research, conservation and education, as a landscape of rare and endangered flora and fauna, and as a site for high quality, healthy recreation. It is funded by membership subscriptions, sponsorship activities and donations.
For more information about the Friends of Bedgebury Pinetum visit www.bedgeburypinetum.org.uk , contact 01580 879842 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Bedgebury Forest Cycle Club was set up in 2006 in order to accommodate the views and ideas of regular visitors to Bedgebury and to ensure the successful evolution of the cycle trails.
The club has a growing membership of all ages and abilities, hosts regular activities and rides, a junior club, coaching, and social events.
Working with the Forestry Commission, the club also plays a major part in Bedgebury's MTB trail development, with members assisting with trail maintenance, way marking, extension and re-routing of the single track. The volunteer group meets on the second Saturday of every month.
To find out more visit the Bedgebury Forest Cycle Club website at www.boarsonbikes.co.uk/
4. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Further information can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/england
Sandra Styles, Bedgebury Marketing and Communications
email@example.com or 0300 067 4475.
Further images from the volunteer day are available on request.