What do South Downs Volunteer Rangers actually do?
September 22, 2017
Russell Cleaver, who gives his time as a South Downs Volunteer Ranger in the western end of the National Park, answers a question often asked by friends or even strangers.
Words by Russell Cleaver
Top of the list, unsurprisingly, is scrub bashing, a long-time favourite for volunteers which covers a variety of jobs from weeding to felling trees. We carry out a lot of path works, improving access for the many walkers, cyclists and horse riders – this could be installing easy-access gates or clearing overgrown paths. Right across the National Park we are also involved in a broad range of surveys including butterfly, bird or flower counts and access surveys.
Of the more occasional tasks undertaken we help maintain flint walls, repair dew ponds, make owl boxes, lay hedges, plant cowslips or split stakes. Although some, no doubt, have been cursing over more unpleasant jobs, like pulling out invasive balsam and ragwort, or even picking up litter. But who said volunteering was easy?
Although we can select which tasks to work, most volunteers turn up regularly to pursue whatever task is provided. So, our quick answer to “what do volunteers actually do?” is – we have fun.