Regional Update and Thank You – Al Crosby, Regional Manager, North
Dear northern volunteers!
The past year of so has seen some big changes with our volunteering in the Trust and in the North region, with the introduction of a new framework for improved recruitment and risk management procedures, improved policies, and better information and communication. And of course all this brought together by Claire Green – our brilliantly energetic Volunteer Development Officer.
We’ve recently gone through Investors in Volunteering accreditation – some of you may have been involved in the process. But all of you have been integral to our success in achieving this accolade – so a huge thank you.
Throughout the UK, our north region has the highest number of volunteer roles – around 900. As our ambitious strategy flows into its fourth year, the contributions made by you are vital in helping us achieve our vision of a UK rich in native woods and trees, for people and wildlife. We couldn’t do all this without you.
We are developing and delivering some amazing projects at the moment, which have a strong volunteer focus, and here a just a few –
We have just acquired the first phase of what will be a new 450 acre woodland creation site near Derby, called Mead. It will become the first ‘Young People’s Forest’. – We have received some generous funding from #iwill, an organisation set up to encourage social action amongst young people – 10–20 yrs – an age group we typically haven’t engaged with. They will co-develop, manage and deliver much of the project. It truly is a break from the norm for us. You may have seen PR from the fabulous launch event on 10 May!
Our ‘Destination Site’, Skipton Castle Woods, continues to go from strength to strength – new installations, improved links with the castle, more attention to detail and a super events programme all supported by over 50 volunteers is really leading the way in our approach to delivering a high quality visitor experience. Our Board of Trustees are visiting in June, and plans are afoot for a replacement bridge across Eller Beck at the entrance, removing the unhelpful steps and allowing easy access to a wider audience. We’re also refurbishing the ‘Welcome Barn’, kitting it out with inspiring information about the wood, the north region and the Trust. This will be supplemented in the summer months by our mobile visitor centre – you might see it on the High Street if you’re in town – please pop in and see us! We’ll be seeking volunteers to help provide that warm welcome to regular and new visitors to this special place, and we’re hoping all this work at Skipton will return more members and supporters to our cause.
Later this month our whole regional team are gathering at Nidd Gorge, to look at Ancient Woodland restoration and the impact of ash dieback, as well as checking out some of the work carried out by our team of hard working vols, undertaken in partnership with Harrogate BC.
Smithills Estate, our flagship site within the Northern Forest, continues to be a hub of activity – a brand new welcoming car park, planting and access works well under way, as well as a huge events programme, helping to engage the diverse local community. The burnt areas are starting to recover, but the fire affected our schedule and we’ve still a long way to go to full recovery in line with our plans for a more diverse upland habitat.
Activity off our estate is no less busy – last year we planted over 450 hectares of new native woodland on other people’s land, and helped secure 250 hectares of ancient woodland into restoration.
Volunteering opportunities might be fewer off our estate, but no less important – our Woodland Creation Champions do sterling work visiting potential schemes and advising landowners on the right tree in the right place, and we helped North York Moors National Park set up a seed collecting programme – with volunteers at the heart – as part of their long-term commitment to tree planting in the Park. We’re hoping to expand our volunteering opportunities within our vital outreach work – so do keep an eye out for exciting roles.
If you haven’t been to one of our volunteer network events in the region, please do come along – there’s 6 this year, and they are great opportunities to meet other Trust volunteers and staff, and hear about our work in the region.
There’s never been a better time to work for or volunteer for our cause – we’re seeing increasing recognition in the media of the climate crisis and ecological emergency facing us. We all know the numerous benefits of woods and trees and role they can play in ensuring a rich and healthy functioning environment for people and wildlife.
There’s a long way to go, and hard work ahead, but we need to dig deep and take action. Exciting times ahead, and I know I’m glad to be part of it all, doing what I can – I’m sure you feel the same.
Our time is now.
So once again, a huge thank you from me and all the northern team – together we’re making a difference.
Regional Director – North