Jane's Story: Volunteering in the New Forest

Jane, a volunteer ranger stand in a autumnal woodland

Jane's Story: Volunteering in the New Forest

This post was written by Jane, a volunteer ranger in the New Forest. Volunteering in the forest has made Jane feel more connected to nature and the seasons. Learn more about forest wellbeing.

For more than twenty years I spent most of my working week catching glimpses of the New Forest on my drive to work or looking out on it wistfully from the train window as I sped past it. I could see it was beautiful and felt lucky to be so close to it but I’d never really had the time to fully explore it.

When I had the opportunity to go part-time at work, I quickly realised that spending time in this amazing landscape right on my doorstep was what I wanted to do. But I didn’t quite know where to start or how to get involved. Then I saw an advert in the local paper offering the chance to become a volunteer ranger with Forestry England. That was ten years ago and I am still doing the job today!

Group of 5 men and 3 women stand in a line wearing Forestry England jumpers.

Being a volunteer ranger is a fairly unique opportunity. Unlike many other volunteering roles where you can feel on the edges of an organisation, this role puts you right at the centre. When I put on my uniform I feel like I am really part of the team. It’s a pretty great office to work in too!

Spending days outside, in the fresh air with others who are committed to this beautiful landscape gives me a huge amount of job satisfaction.

In return for my time and commitment I get a lot back, you are constantly learning and building up your knowledge and skills. This makes the rewards of the job really tangible.

I love working in tandem with the seasons. In spring I might be out on patrol checking signage, information points, or cycle routes. In the summer months I spend a lot of time meeting the public at our visitor information cabin at Bolderwood or taking part in guided nature walks.Then in the autumn, the forest puts on an amazing show of colour and I think this is my favourite time of year to be out in it.

Sun shining through autumnal forest

"I notice the seasons properly now that I am out in the forest more. I love the variety of the job and that it changes as I go through the year." 

There simply isn’t enough space here to talk about everything I have learnt about wildlife in the forest during the last ten years. Suffice to say, I had NO idea how many creatures called the forest their home and how many rare and protected species are here.

I feel privileged to be able to get involved in tasks to help conserve and protect this precious habitat.

Heathland in the New Forest National Park

"Volunteering with Forestry England is a stimulating job where you can be outside and learn more about this beautiful place we live in."

Thank you to Jane for sharing her inspiring story.

Forests are places you can seek adventure, make memories or find escape, and volunteering is just one of many ways that forests can help strengthen and reinforce your wellbeing

Keep exploring

Woman in forest smiling
08 May 2019
This post was written by Ellen, an office worker in Bristol. Ellen has found that her lunchtime walks offer a chance to escape the confines of office life. Learn more about forest wellbeing. Sims Hill Wood is an area of woodland about a two minute walk from my Bristol office. I was introduced to the woodland via a lunchtime walk with a colleague on a hot July day last year, during my first week at work. I remember the shade from the trees - it was a very hot summer. But I also recall how while walking and looking at our surroundings I felt more comfortable, chatting and getting to know my colleagues.
Kate Humble against a bluebell woodland backdrop
01 May 2019
Kate Humble & Forestry England are encouraging people to put one foot in front of another and soak up the nation’s forests during mental health awareness week. “Walking for me is a form of mediation, and the simple act of putting one foot in front of another has extraordinary benefits to my mental wellbeing. It helps me feel relaxed, less anxious and more creative. “Walks enjoyed in the nation’s forests can be particularly special. I love to follow trails through the trees where with every step you can enjoy the sounds, sights and smells of nature.  Never knowing what wildlife is going to appear on my pathway makes me excited! There is something so simple about walking but the benefits are huge.” Escape the stresses of everyday life and soak up the spring sunshine on one of Forestry England’s carefully selected top 10 walks for your wellbeing.
Friends of Chopwell Volunteering group
We have a wide range of opportunities across England you can get stuck into, like practical conservation, maintenance of walking and mountain bike trails and vegetation management. But if these aren’t for you, how about helping out at our visitor centres, meeting and greeting visitors, helping to lead events, doing wildlife surveys or answering enquiries in the office?