Take up a new chal­lenge

Kate Tit­ford from the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust finds help­ing lo­cal wildlife is one New Year’s res­o­lu­tion that’s easy to keep

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - COMMUNITY -

NEW Year’s Res­o­lu­tions are funny things. Despite start­ing the year with good in­ten­tions it’s easy to slip back into fa­mil­iar rou­tines.

Tak­ing up paint­ing, join­ing a choir, Zumba classes I’ve tried them all, briefly at least. Then a few years ago I made a res­o­lu­tion that I’ve ac­tu­ally stuck to.

I de­cided to vol­un­teer at a monthly work party for the Wildlife Trust. It was close to where I live and just one morn­ing a month, so the com­mit­ment wasn’t huge.

But the re­wards have been well worth it and five years later I still go.

Our lit­tle group get in­volved in a whole range of ac­tiv­i­ties over the course of a year.

In win­ter it’s of­ten cut­ting things down – doesn’t it seem that so much con­ser­va­tion work in­volves cut­ting things down!

It is im­por­tant though as the space cre­ated and new growth which re­sults brings so many ben­e­fits for wildlife.

We cut down shrubs and small trees in wood­land to al­low spring sun­light to reach the wood­land floor, which en­cour­ages flow­ers to grow, bring­ing in­sects and birds too.

Hedge-lay­ing makes hedges stur­dier as a bar­rier and thicker over time, pro­vid­ing nest­ing sites for birds, shel­ter for small mam­mals and, of course, flow­ers, nuts and berries as food for wildlife through the course of a year.

In spring we cart wheel­bar­row loads of wood­chip to make seat­ing for an ed­u­ca­tion area where BBOWT in­spires thou­sands of school­child­ren about con­ser­va­tion each year.

We help with but­ter­fly sur­veys, clear out clogged up ponds, rake end­less amounts of cut grass and all with a smile on our faces.

Or at least word of en­cour­age­ment to each other when mus­cles are start­ing to burn!

It’s not just the thought that I’m help­ing wildlife that keeps me com­ing back. I’ve made friends in the group (and man­aged to en­cour­age a cou­ple of my friends to join us too).

I get some ex­er­cise out­side in the fresh air and I’ve learnt new skills – from iden­ti­fy­ing more plants and an­i­mals to the best way to rake a field, some skills more use­ful than oth­ers.

Through­out Bucks there is a whole range of vol­un­teer­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties with the lo­cal Wildlife Trust on of­fer. Get­ting out and about, hands-on and in the fresh air is what I love. But, there are plenty of other ways to get in­volved, from help­ing at events or check­ing on the Trust’s live­stock to meet­ing and greet­ing vol­un­teers at Col­lege Lake.

I’m sure that if do­ing some­thing use­ful is one of your New Year’s Res­o­lu­tions then be­com­ing a vol­un­teer for BBOWT will be a res­o­lu­tion that’s easy to keep.

Find more vol­un­teer­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties at www.bbowt.org.uk/ vol­un­teer

Win­ter wan­der­ings: Sheep on the frozen ground by Phil Townsend

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