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Cash appeal to boost volunteer army which cares for the New Forest

A VOLUNTEER army which helps care for the New Forest is hoping to see its numbers boosted to 1,000 if an appeal to raise £5,000 is successful.

There are currently about 600 who undertake work including creating hedgerows, planting trees, and carrying out surveys.

But after lottery funding came to an end there is an urgent need to raise funds so more volunteers can be recruited while also paying for coordination, training, and equipment.

Volunteer Jo Shorrocks
Volunteer Jo Shorrocks

The New Forest Trust (NFT) and the national park authority, which coordinate the work, have come together in a week-long appeal that kicks off at midday tomorrow (Thursday) to raise £2,500.

If they hit the target by midday next Thursday, it will be match-funded to £5,000 by charitable funding group the Big Give through its Green Match Fund.

William Ziegler, chair of the NFT, said: "The New Forest is a unique environment which contains numerous rare species, and the work of the volunteers is vital in trying to ensure their continued existence in the face of ever-increasing pressures.

"We’re calling on all our residents and businesses to please each give a little this week so we can double their money and provide a much-needed boost to the volunteering programme, which is in danger of grinding to a halt."

Richard Austin, volunteer, training and mentoring coordinator at the NPA, said:"Our volunteers tell us that volunteering is life-changing and improves not only their physical health but their wellbeing too.

"Volunteering gives people the chance to see parts of the New Forest that they haven’t before, all while making new friends, discovering new skills, learning about this historic landscape and becoming custodians of it."

Jo Shorrocks, who has been volunteering on wildlife conservation projects for the NPA since 2016, said: "There are so many benefits to volunteering. You’ve got the fresh air, you’ve got the exercise, you’ve got the company, but it is the education side that is a benefit for me in particular.

"The people that run these tasks are experts in their field and they are very happy to pass on their knowledge. It helps you to appreciate and understand what’s around you a lot more.

"I do feel it’s effectively a form of mindfulness that you don’t necessarily know you’re doing, but you are."

To donate, visit bit.ly/3dvAsrA

To volunteer for the NFT visit www.newforesttrust.org.uk/our-supporters/volunteers and for the NPA www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/communities/volunteer

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