The Woodland Working Group that just keeps on going – hurrah for team Kinclaven!
The Woodland Trust acquired Kinclaven Bluebell Wood in Perthshire 4 years ago. The management and restoration of this stunning oak woodland wouldn’t have been anywhere near as successful if it wasn’t for the incredibly hard work of the trusty volunteer Woodland Working Group. We are lucky to have the support of the players of the Peoples’ Postcode Lottery who fund much of our work there.
With over 60 members, the group rises to any challenge, from removing non-native invasive plants like Himalayan Balsam and Rhododendron ponticum, to helping to run community, school and corporate tree planting events.
The group has two highly skilled and trained volunteer leaders, who are volunteers themselves. They have received extensive training in Safeguarding, risk assessment, running a group, and of course both have First Aid certificates. Ian Riches, one of the two, has worked tirelessly to adapt the activity to fit new Covid-related Woodland Trust protocols and risk assessments, for example working in “pods” of 6 people at “waving distance” when Scottish Government rules allowed.
Ian says “Removal of the invasive species takes a great deal of repeated physical effort, but it has been really worthwhile to see the areas of the woodland damaged by these plants start to flourish again. I was delighted to see bluebells flowering again in the areas that were once a dark Rhododendron desert! The group is friendly, sociable, supportive and hard-working and I have thoroughly enjoyed leading the activity through these tricky times. Pre-Covid we loved supporting events on the site – as an example we worked with staff from Nationwide Building Society, Premier Paper, Aviva and other companies to help them to plant trees and remove invasives, and we think that working with the volunteer group enriched their experience”.
Ian is an absolute treasure. He has worked tirelessly to keep the group going through all the ups and downs of Covid. He has jumped through all the necessary hoops to ensure activities are Covid-safe and comply with all the new risk assessment protocols. He is incredibly reliable and goes about all his tasks with unstoppable energy. He also volunteers with other charities, doing everything from gardening to making and serving meals for people living in poverty. His confident and efficient style always gives a strong feeling that Ian has everything under control in a safe manner, but this efficiency doesn’t dampen his cracking sense of humour, which is always on form!
Ian is supported by another Ian, Ian Stokes, who is the second Woodland Working Group leader. “Ian S” backs up “Ian R” with careful consideration to health and safety and thorough effort looking after tools and logistics. What
Kinclaven Bluebell Wood is looking spectacular this week with its carpet of bluebells. The Woodland Working Group have been out supporting our work to educate the public about trampling of bluebells and the damage it can cause. Having volunteers and staff there on patrol really helped limit the trampling, and the car parking marshalling meant we could get more cars parked (60 vehicles in a 30 space car park!) and turn less cars away. We reckon we had around 1000 visitors on the busiest Sunday – that’s a lot of people and just shows our presence really did make a difference.
Scotland Volunteering Development Officer