Posted 21st Mar 2015
Forests are an important part of our ecosystem and for World Forestry Day (21st March 2015) we find out how you can volunteer and help keep our woodlands running
Recreation, timber, wildlife and stress relief are among the many reasons we love our forests. World Forestry Day, 21 March, and Forest Discovery Day on 22nd March, provide a weekend of events where we can celebrate our beloved woodlands whilst raising the importance of all types of trees and forests.
Trees and forests are essential for us to survive. They clean the air that allows us to breathe and also promote sustainable livelihoods. Forests are also a popular visitor destination; more people visit a forest than the seaside and the millions of visitors contribute almost £2 billion annually to the economy. The Forestry Commission was set up nearly 100 years ago in 1919 to grow timber for the UK following World War One. Today the organisation cares for more than 1,500 woods and forests (one fifth of all the forests in England), and their task is to protect, improve and expand these. Forestry Commission woodlands belong to the people of this country; you and me.
It’s because of people that the Forestry Commission can do such important work. There is so much that they wouldn’t be able to achieve without the help of volunteers. Volunteers provide extra resources to complete practical conservation, event delivery and site maintenance. With the support of volunteers the Forestry Commission is able to complete tasks which provide benefits for trees, wildlife and people.
A recent survey carried out by the Forestry Commission showed that 55 per cent of volunteers gave their time because they enjoyed being outdoors, closely followed by wishing to give something back to the woodland they love. Many other volunteers wanted to learn new skills, improve their health and meet new people. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests visiting a green space is good for you.
Individuals gain many benefits from volunteering with the Forestry Commission; it can help improve health, social engagement, career experience and learning.
There are also lots of benefits for the Forestry Commission and the future of our forests. Volunteers help to protect our trees from pests and diseases, allow new trees to be planted, help to protect our species, improve habitats and protect historical sites. They help to restore degraded land and turn it into green space that is beneficial for all, and they help provide a space for leisure and recreation. There are a variety of opportunities to volunteer at the Forestry Commission, ranging from practical conservation through to visitor welcome, where you may be helping with events or providing vital information to visitors. There are also opportunities supporting communications as well as ecological and archaeological surveys.
If you want to start volunteering and help the Forestry Commission protect, improve and expand our forests for the future, visit http://www.forestry.gov.uk/england-volunteering, to find available opportunities by geographical area.
By Forestry Commission England
Images courtesy of Forest Commission/Crown Copyright