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As part of a new recruitment drive, the Forestry Commission is calling on local people to consider volunteering to help conserve local wildlife and habitats and to help enhance visitor enjoyment in the New Forest.
From now until 14th February 2011, new volunteers can apply to join the Volunteer Ranger Service, who mainly focus on public facing duties, and the Two Trees Conservation Team, who get involved in many conservation tasks – both of which recruit throughout the year.
The Commission’s Volunteer Ranger Coordinator, Vicky Myers, explained:
“Volunteers come from all age groups and all walks of life. Some people have free time to commit to helping us during the week and others work with us at weekends. If you are thinking of volunteering in the New Forest then there couldn’t be a more fitting time - 2011 is the 10th anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers, offering an opportunity to join the global effort to reinvigorate the spirit of volunteering.”
The Forestry Commission already has more than 300 people undertaking voluntary work in the New Forest and those thinking of joining this ‘volunteer army’ will discover a wide range of activities to get involved in. During the spring and summer months, Volunteer Rangers help at public events, lead guided walks and patrol the forest to make sure that the public enjoy their visit.
Throughout the autumn and winter, there are around 80 conservation tasks to help with, such as clearing the edges of woodland tracks to improve butterfly habitats and the removal of seedling pine regeneration from heathland, to provide a good habitat for birds such as the Dartford Warbler.
Kevin Burrows, from Ringwood, has been volunteering in the New Forest for ten years. He said:
“I’ve always been passionate about the outdoors and I saw becoming a volunteer as the ideal way of learning more about the New Forest, as well as giving something back to the community. I love the variation that the role brings; you never know what you’ll be asked to do from one day to the next. If you love the forest, enjoy the outdoors and would like to work with some terrific and enthusiastic people, then I can highly recommend giving volunteering a go!”
Sue Lynes, from Brockenhurst, has served as a volunteer ranger for 11 years. She added:
“Being a Volunteer Ranger is a brilliant way of spending more time in the forest, and I really enjoy the diversity of the role and the camaraderie with other volunteers. Plus, I feel that helping visitors to learn more about the forest is important; it makes them appreciate it more.”
The Forestry Commission is planning numerous events in 2011 which volunteers can get involved in – from Himalayan Balsam pulling (removing the invasive plant from woodland areas) and Seed Gathering Sunday (for people to collect seeds and plant the trees of the future) to litter picks and ridge edge conservation clearance work.
For more information about volunteering in the New Forest, visit www.forestry.gov.uk/england-volunteering or phone 023 8028 6840.
Notes to Editors
The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible for forestry in Great Britain. It supports woodland owners with grants; tree felling licences, regulation and advice; promotes the benefits of forests and forestry; and advises Government on forestry policy. It manages more than a million hectares (2.5 million acres) of national forest land for public benefits such as sustainable timber production, public recreation, nature conservation, and rural and community development. For more information, visit www.forestry.gov.uk/newforest
Libby Burke at the Forestry Commission on 02380 286832