May 17 2019

Celebrating our volunteer wardens

A very rewarding and extremely important role, no two days are the same as a volunteer warden. Our series of profiles of some of our fantastic volunteer team continues by taking a brief glimpse into the world of this wonderful woodland creature… We spoke to Stephen Want, a warden in the Bucks, Berks and Oxon region to find out more…

 

Hi Stephen! Firstly, what brought you to volunteer for the Woodland Trust?

“A few years ago, I retired from a fairly demanding career in international oil and gas exploration (I was a Geologist and project manager finishing up as CEO of a start-up oil company).  After retiring, I rapidly became aware that I needed something to do that I felt was worthwhile and made a difference. I do a lot of walking, primarily for its health benefits, much of which is through the woods local to the village I live in.  One of these woods is owned by the Woodland Trust which led me to the volunteering page on the Trust’s website.  I initially offered to join the ‘cow watchers’ at Penn Wood but all the slots were filled at which point I think it was Sam (Assistant Site Manager in BBO) who suggested Volunteer Woodland Warden, and here I am.”

 

Tell us about what your role involves?

“I aim to visit each of the six woods I cover (a total of 150 acres) twice/month to check them for hazards to the public (eg trees fallen across pathways etc), misuse of the woods which might include unauthorised vehicle access (such as motorcycles), evidence of unauthorised shooting, encroachment (neighbouring property owners moving their boundary fences into the Trust’s wood or attempting to annexe part of the wood, unauthorised damage to the woodland etc).

I also aim to clear litter from the woods and report dumping of larger rubbish to the Trust for later removal.  Whenever I encounter unusual wildlife sighting’s, I report them too.  Whenever I’m in the woods, I always look for opportunities to engage the public.  This achieves several objectives; it gets the message out that the Trust is taking an interest in their woods, it gives the public an opportunity to tell me of their concerns relating the use/misuse of the woods and it allows me to raise awareness of the Trust itself.”

 

What is the most enjoyable thing about the role of Warden?

“Apart from a feeling of doing something useful, I enjoy just being in the woods and chatting to people when opportunity arises.”

 

What is the weirdest thing you have spotted in the woods so far?

“Ha ha!  This is a good one……I recently found a boat trailer dumped in one of the woods!  How it got there I have no idea.”

 

And finally… what is your favourite woodland fact?

“That an oak tree in the UK can support over 280 species of insect! We need more oak trees 😊”

 

Words: Stephen Want

 

We are seeking Woodland Wardens in the Kent area so please do get in touch with Anna Claxton, Volunteer Development Officer (SE) if you would like more information about this opportunity. Thank you so much to all of our volunteers!

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