CHARITIES need more business-minded volunteers to meet growing demands for help in the age of austerity, says the recently-elected New Forest Trust chairman.

William Ziegler is looking for new talent to help the trust support organisations that strive to conserve the flora, fauna and commoning practices of the New Forest, many of which have seen government funding cut in recent years.

The trust has generated almost £100,000 for conservation work since launching its Visitor Gifting Scheme in 2006. This continues to go from strength to strength with the lovetheforest campaign, which works with the local tourism industry. However, the new chairman would like to do more.

He said: “Given the trend in reduced funding from the government, I think our value to the forest will increase.

“While the New Forest Trust has always benefited from a core membership of passionate trustees, we have identified a need for some specific skills as we grow. It’s essential that we make ourselves more professional, and what we need in order to do that is a bit of fresh blood with business expertise.”

In particular, the trust is looking to attract volunteers with accounting, HR, administration and marketing backgrounds to the board.

The trust aims to support the New Forest in practical ways, such as improving the public’s understanding of the relationship between conservation and the unique livestock, woodland and open forest husbandry methods employed by the people who live and work there.

One of the ways it achieves this is by working with hotels and businesses to collect donations from their guests through the lovetheforest scheme. The trust then grants money to local organisations. Grants awarded have helped fund reflective collars for New Forest ponies, specialist bat boxes for some of the rarest species of bats in the UK, and ongoing support for the Beaulieu Road Sale Yard.

As well as adding to the expertise of the trustees, the new chairman wants to see more local businesses get involved in lovetheforest.

Mr Ziegler said: “It’s important for businesses to recognise that by helping us they are helping themselves.

“There’s a symbiotic relationship between visitors coming to the forest and them supporting our hotels – without the beauty of our surroundings, tourism would not flourish. We are asking businesses owners to acknowledge this by raising money from their customers to help us keep the forest beautiful and keep attracting visitors.”

Mr Ziegler is a third generation New Forester and has been involved in several local organisations, including serving 10 years as the chairman of the New Forest Association – one of the world’s oldest conservation bodies. He succeeds Richard Manley, who was at the helm of the New Forest Trust for eight years and oversaw the introduction of the Visitor Gifting Scheme, which has funded many projects to improve conservation and the education of visitors to the New Forest.

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