Mar 30 2020

Central region volunteers – Thank you!

Volunteering might have come to an end for the time being, but now is a time to reflect on all of the activity that has been going on over the past few months in the central region.


We have many volunteers who support our onsite work, and Woodland Working Group (WWG) leaders and members make up a large number of these. As soon as the days shorten, the nights lengthen and the weather turns inclement, WWG’s are gearing up for action. October 2019 saw the 13 groups across the central region begin their activities, which have included clearing paths and rides, coppicing, litter picking, pond clearance, fence repairs and lots more besides. One of our central region groups, the Bramingham Woods WWG were awarded the Willow award at the volunteer of the year awards last year. Well done to them! At the Woodland Trust we understand how lucky we are to have such amazing, skilled volunteers. Thank you to all involved in these groups.


Other volunteers were busy carrying out warden duties on our Woodland Trust estate and new volunteers were recruited for Uffmoor Wood as part of a project to address antisocial behaviour onsite. These new wardens or ‘dog ambassadors’ will be helping to engage with visitors, to explain our conservation aims and to encourage responsible behaviours. Although our volunteer activities have stopped for now, once volunteer activity can commence these brand new volunteers will contribute hugely to our aim.


Volunteers supported our events that took place from October until early March, including successful community tree planting sessions which took place at Tring and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Wood (QEDJW). At Tring 5000 trees were planted in one day as part of the Big Climate Fight back, whilst at QEDJW children from local schools lent a hand during the week and members of the local community on the Saturday. Thank you for helping us to plant 2000 trees!



Volunteers from the National Trust and the Woodland Trust united in another session to plant trees on the Belton Estate, near Grantham also as part of the Big Climate Fight back.


Volunteers supported our landscape scale work in the Eastern Claylands, which covers parts of Suffolk and Essex. The woodland cover in the Eastern Claylands is 36,000 hectares and a third of this is semi-natural ancient woodland or plantations on ancient woodland sites. More than half of the tree canopy is made up of trees outside woods (TOWS), mainly in hedgerows and fields but also in wood pasture and orchards. The aim of the project is to reduce the vulnerability and increase the resilience of the landscape to cope with the current impact of tree diseases, pests and the long term threat of development, agricultural intensification and climate change. We are predicting that over 2 million trees will have to planted over the next 15 years to replace trees lost due to Ash Dieback and Acute Oak Decline alone.


So far tree stock volunteers, speakers and event volunteers have signed up. Tree stock volunteers help us to make up tree packs, which are then collected or shipped out to landowners who can plant on their land, possibly with the help of our event volunteers. The speakers will help us to work with farmers, providing information about how the Woodland Trust can help.



Across our other sites, including our destination sites (Tring Park and Hainault Forest), our engagement and interpretation planning continues, ready for when we can get back out and about in the future. Last year saw the recruitment of woodland engagement volunteers, whose role it was to work from the Woodland Trust’s mobile visitor centre to welcome visitors to the wood and provide all kinds of information, from access and pathways to conservation.


The first volunteer network event of the year took place at Belton House, with 23 volunteers attending. On the day the volunteers heard from a number of speakers including Heather Cook, who is the Project Development Officer for the ‘Reconnecting Grantham with its historic landscape’ project, Pete Armstrong, the Woodland Working Group leader for the Londonthorpe Woodland Working Group and Ali Wyatt who is one of the representatives for the central region on the National Volunteering Panel.  In the afternoon the group had a tour of the formal gardens and parkland at Belton. Feedback was very positive with everyone enjoying the day.



I’ve only mentioned a small number of volunteering roles and their activities, but of course there are a great number of volunteers carrying out a large number of roles on our behalf. So no matter what your role (there are 48 of them!) I want to say a huge thank you from the central region’s operations team and the wider Woodland Trust. Our work is only possible through your commitment and dedication, and although we’ve had to cancel all volunteering at this time, we will come back as a strong network once again. Thank you for choosing the Woodland Trust.


Amanda Brookes – Volunteering Development Officer (Central England)


Image credit

Victoria Cheston. Spades – Langley Vale Planting Event December 2014 VPS
Tring Park: Judith Parry
Belton event images: Estelle Selgers Helsen


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