Get involved in New Forest volunteering

NATURE and history loving folk are being urged to volunteer for a variety of organisations across the new Forest.

People are needed to get involved in range of activities such as creating the first ‘mammal atlas’ of the south east by recording wildlife sightings or learning the art of laser-mapping at archaeological sites from the Bronze Age to the Second World War.

National Park Authority interpretation officer Jim Mitchell said: “Our laser mapping project has been a real hit, with volunteers using iPads to check out anomalies from the mapping on the ground and discover previously unknown archaeological sites.”

Volunteer Michael Osborne, who worked on the project, said: “It enabled me to visit new areas of the New Forest and carry out surveys into its fascinating history. There has been a real sense of teamwork and not only have we helped record and protect this valuable heritage, but there have been a lot of laughs and fun on the way.”

There are further opportunities with Hampshire Scouts, who are looking for more people to help them run adventure activities for young people. And if diving is your thing you can sign up to assist in the marine wildlife survey being undertaken by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.

Volunteers contributed an estimable 6,250 hours to National Park Authority projects last financial year.

One of their main volunteer-heavy projects has been New Forest Remembers, a website detailing all the amazing finds, recordings and uncovered secrets of the Forest at War.

“Volunteering is great for getting out in the fresh air and exploring parts of the New Forest you never knew existed, while helping to protect this beautiful part of the country,” said Mr Mitchell.

“You even have the chance to learn new skills while enjoying the company of others – plenty of our volunteers have gone on to become friends with each other.

“If you’re looking for a fresh challenge, or just an excuse to get out and explore the National Park in all its glory, then get involved and volunteer in the Forest this year.”

Other organisations which are looking for helpers include the Forestry Commission, the National Trust, Friends of New Forest Airfields, the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, Ringwood and Fordingbridge Footpath Society, New Forest Healthy Walks, the New Forest Centre and Hampshire Conservation Volunteers.

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