Vital funds are needed to help a successful New Forest conservation volunteer scheme continue – and this week any public donations will be doubled.
The New Forest Trust has teamed up with the National Park Authority (NPA) to launch an appeal to get its 600 volunteers back outside to help care for the New Forest after the pandemic and to increase their numbers by a further 400 people.
The volunteers have undertaken critical work including conserving woodlands, creating hedgerows, planting trees and carrying out surveys but the Lottery funding to pay for coordination, training and equipment has come to an end.
Now the Trust has entered into the Big Give’s Green Match Fund to raise £2,500 in one week and the money will be doubled to £5,000 by the Fund to support volunteering work.
Members of the public are asked to donate whatever they can on the New Forest Trust’s Big Give page from midday this Thursday (22 April) which is Earth Day: https://donate.thebiggive.org.uk/campaign/a056900001opaJlAAI
William Ziegler, Chairman of the New Forest Trust (registered charity number 1099420), said: ‘The New Forest is a unique environment which contains numerous rare species and the work of the volunteers is vital in trying to ensure their continued existence in the face of ever-increasing pressures.
‘We’re calling on all our residents and businesses to please each give a little this week so we can double their money and provide a much-needed boost to the volunteering programme, which is in danger of grinding to a halt.’
Richard Austin, Volunteer, Training and Mentoring Coordinator at the NPA, said as well as supporting the New Forest and its communities, volunteering provides huge health and wellbeing benefits.
He said: ‘Our volunteers tell us that volunteering is life-changing and improves not only their physical health but their wellbeing too. So we are desperately keen to get our volunteers back out in the Forest not only to help nature recover but also help people recover from the pandemic when it’s safe to do so.
‘Volunteering gives people the chance to see parts of the New Forest that they haven’t before, all while making new friends, discovering new skills, learning about this historic landscape and becoming custodians of it.
‘Please give whatever you can to help us get the programme up and running again.’
Jo Shorrocks has been volunteering on wildlife conservation projects for the NPA since 2016. Jo said: ‘There are so many benefits to volunteering. You’ve got the fresh air, you’ve got the exercise, you’ve got the company, but it is the education side that is a benefit for me in particular.
‘The people that run these tasks are experts in their field and they are very happy to pass on their knowledge. It helps you to appreciate and understand what’s around you a lot more. I do feel it’s effectively a form of mindfulness that you don’t necessarily know you’re doing, but you are.’
To qualify for match funding, donations must be given between midday on Thursday 22 April and midday on Thursday 29 April through the New Forest Trust’s Big Give fundraising page: https://donate.thebiggive.org.uk/campaign/a056900001opaJlAAI.