Our amazing Forest Rangers were very busy throughout 2019, not only running activities for guests but also carrying out wildlife monitoring and engaging with local communities, connecting more people with nature. Let's have a look at what they've been up to!
As our locations are spread out from Scotland, right down to Cornwall, our Forest Rangers don't often have chance to meet up and swap stories, so we started the year with a two day conference which gave them all the perfect opportunity to catch up and share ideas and knowledge. During the two day session, we also invited ecologists to join us and deliver training sessions, both classroom based and in the field to build on the existing ecology monitoring skills of our Forest Rangers. This was a huge success and plans are in place for a repeat in 2020!
Our Forest Rangers were also involved in several nationally recognised days including National Tree week, Outdoor Classroom day, the Big Butterfly count and the great Scottish squirrel survey to name just a few.
Our partners at Forestry England gifted all of our English locations with a commemorative tree to celebrate their centenary year and 100 years of forestry. Our Forest Rangers took the opportunity to plant these during National Tree week in November with other team members, guests, local schools and community groups to join in with the celebrations. In the photos you can see John the Forest Ranger from Sherwood with Personal Best Martial Arts academy from Mansfield, Robin the Forest Ranger from Cropton and Keldy with other members of the Keldy team and Gerry from the Forest of Dean with children from one of the local schools.
Outdoor Classroom Day
Katalin, one of our Forest Rangers from the Forest of Dean is passionate about connecting more children with nature and she created an incredible learning space in the forest for some guests staying with us to join others from right across the world to take part in 'Outdoor Classroom Day'.
The Forest of Dean
Gerry works with Katalin at Forest of Dean and is always on the go, 2019 was no different. He dedicated numerous hours to working with local wildlife organisations helping out with conservation projects in the area including hedgehog rehabilitation, greater Horseshoe bat surveying, reptile monitoring and the recent reintroduction of Pine Martens to the Forest of Dean, to name just a few.
Gerry tells us more about the pine marten reintroduction project we are proud to support here.
I'm sure Gerry will be just as busy in 2020 as he continues to work towards achieving his bat licence and monitoring plants and animals on location…as well as his Forest Ranger activities!
Ebonie began her Forest Ranger role with Forest Holidays at the start of 2019 and has since hit the ground running by organising additional activities for guests and visitors from the local community. These have run alongside her regular Forest Ranger activities and have been a great success, showcasing the forest and educating people about the wonderful wildlife that calls it home.
She organised two brilliant events for guests and members of the community with local environmental organisations, Butterfly conservation and the Hawk and Owl Trust.
Sara spent the summer providing forest schools sessions every Thursday for children from the local village. This was centered on encouraging creativity, education about environmental awareness, and learning about safety and wellbeing in the natural world. She also gathered other members of the Beddgelert team to join her in using their one Forest Holidays volunteering day to help out at the Make a Difference weekend, helping to protect the natural beauty of the Snowdonia National Park.
Our Forest Ranger Pauline, is passionate about the environment and is always trying to improve the sustainability at our Strathyre location. She also spent a lot of time last year monitoring a number of different species including butterflies, bats, dragonflies, red squirrels and pine marten. Pauline is keen to share her knowledge with guests and for them to join her during surveying and last year, during September a number of our guests joined her for the Great Scottish Squirrel Survey which helps to record the number of red squirrels in Scotland. She provided free walks for guests during the week to try and spot red squirrels and also discussed native woodlands, plantations, wildlife habitat as well as squirrel facts. As an added bonus last year, Pauline was also invited to attend the Osprey chick ringing for a conservation project we have supported in the Tweed Valley, we just love this photo of her and the chicks!
Photo credit: Rhona Anderson
Martin, a keen botanist, is our longest serving Forest Ranger and therefore knows our Deerpark location like the back of his hand, but even after 12 years he's still finding out new facts about the wildlife that calls Deerpark its home. Earlier this year whilst joined by an expert in the field, Martin carried out lichen surveys across Deerpark was amazed by the number of different species they found. He is now working with the Deerpark team to ensure these species are protected.
Martin also joined ecologists last year to carry out bat box checks and regularly sends photos of weird and wonderful creatures he finds during his Forest Ranger sessions. During your Deerpark visit It's worth having a look in the museum he has created, there’s lots to learn about the history of this beautiful location.
Some of our Forest Ranger's thoughts moving into 2020
Ebonie – Thorpe Forest: "Protecting our forest is the key to protecting our wildlife and creating the best possible ecosystem."
Andy – Ardgartan Argyll: "Looking after the habitat ensures that all nature will continue to be looked after. By teaching the visiting children about nature and the habitat this ensures a sustainable future."
Martin – Deerpark: "I see it as my task to educate and enthuse all that visit Deerpark, whether this is for an event or just staying on location. Guests are always enthralled by something unusual that they have never seen before - knowledge is power! I have great difficulty finishing events that start in the diverse ranger museum, it’s an Aladdin’s cave! Knowledge is an empowerment to value - and preserve the forest."
Robin – Keldy and Cropton: "It's important that we look after our forests. They help support most of the life on our planet from the big animals to the tiny plants. We all enjoy spending time in the forest, whether its wildlife spotting or simply enjoying a pleasant walk."
Gerry – Forest of Dean: "Protecting and enhancing our forest environments is essentially in the battle against climate change & biodiversity loss. Healthy & robust woodlands provide resilience against environmental pressures and contribute to species protection."