Nov 18 2021

In the Spotlight – An interview with volunteer, Rawdon Jones

t’s all about the trees… and so much more: staff and volunteers share their nature joys

Today we would like to introduce you to volunteer warden Rawdon Jones


As a volunteer warden, Rawdon gets himself involved with all those usual warden activities like being the Site Manager’s eyes and ears, being a general custodian of his several semi-urban woodlands, keeping a watch out for the dreaded ash die-back (St Benedict’s has been particularly hard hit), and doing some practical conservation work like coppicing.


Rawdon also has a licence agreement with the Trust to run his Forest School activities in some of ‘his’ woods, and has helped to raise funds for both the Trust and for Forest School events. I’m really touched when I have these conversations with Trust volunteers who either work directly with children in their woods, or are looking for ways to do so. I love it that so many of us realise how important it is to engage children in activities in the natural world.


When I asked Rawdon about his favourite tree, he had his answer straight away, and had a lot to say about hazel trees:


“To me, it’s a wonder tree. I work with it so often. Coppiced properly, it’s basically free wood – it just keeps on giving. As well as kindling, and the long straight stems which can be used for all kinds of things from water divining to walking sticks, I use scraps to make pegs, and small circular discs which are very versatile – I even make birthday badges with them for woodland party events!”


Rawdon had to think a little longer though when I asked him about his other nature favourites: was it birds, I prompted him, or mammals, or plants? He said that although he wouldn’t call himself a birder, he always likes to see birds, but equally likes to see bugs, and plants, and anything in the wild, but what really appeals to him is the landscape…


“I’ve walked from Land’s End to John O’Groats and I loved all the different landscapes I passed through. I’m a hill walker and overlooking the landscape from a height you can spot places you’ve been to, and really see how woodlands fit into the wider mosaic of the land. You can see how ecosystems interact, which being a biologist is what interests me a lot.”


Rawdon went on to explain about part of another of the Trust’s woods at Lumb Brook Valley where the valley stream creates a ‘linear wood’, known locally as the Dingle.


“Again, you can walk along and notice the changes as you walk… you can see different micro environments.”


We ended our discussion by returning to the importance of getting children – and families – into woodlands. Rawdon commented on how he notices the attitudes and behaviour of children change – mostly for the better – when they are free to play in a wooded area. In my experience, I think the ambience (or something) impacts positively on adults too. Perhaps that’s why so many of us choose to do outdoor volunteering… hmmm – better get off this computer.


Daphne Pleace – Volunteer Whittle Reporter

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