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Pooh’s forest home is a honeypot for volunteers

Winnie the Pooh’s forest home was the spot for a volunteer day by electricity workers today.

From Press releases - 7 November 2018 12:00 AM

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Thirteen staff from the finance department at UK Power Networks spent the day in Ashdown Forest cutting back rhododendrons to encourage growth of native plants in the woodland.

Valerie Williams lives in the forest and organised the challenge for her colleagues through UK Power Networks’ volunteering scheme, Donate a Day, which gives the company’s 6,000 staff two days paid leave each year to volunteer in their local communities.

Valerie said: “Everyone who took part in our volunteer day in Ashdown Forest last year wanted to return there again this year. Ashdown Forest is about 6,000 acres of unspoilt forest in a very busy part of East Sussex. It is a hidden gem and most people know it from AA Milne’s book and Poohsticks bridge. It is very rural, unspoilt and picturesque. Every day it looks different, particularly at this time of year, with the autumn colours. It is great getting out into the countryside and seeing what is there, such as the wild ponies and sheep which graze the forest and wander across the road.

“We are clearing rhododendrons primarily, but also willow and silver birch. The rangers are very passionate about maintaining the indigenous plants in the forest. The spot we’re working in is a new wood which was acquired in the last three years, so there is a lot of clearing to do.

“We are a very busy team and our monthly team meeting is the only time when we are away from our desks together, so it’s really nice to take time out in a different environment and get to know your colleagues. The forest is local for me so I enjoy helping out in our local environment.”

Ashdown forest ranger, Bob Kennedy, said: “A huge thank you to all the volunteers from UK Power Networks. The time, effort and energy of corporate volunteer groups and our regular Ashdown volunteers are vital to helping the teams to maintain and improve habitat across the forest.

“A motivated team can clear as much in a day using hand tools and people power as a small team running chainsaws, with a fraction of the noise and minimal environmental impact. A large part of our work is clearing invasive non-native species, such as rhododendron, which if left unchecked takes over the habitat and becomes a monocluture. We lose our native woodland species and the biodiversity that makes Ashdown such a special place.”