Volunteer marks 40 years at Hatfield Forest

Bob Reed has been a volunteer at Hatfield Forest for fourty years. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Bob Reed has been a volunteer at Hatfield Forest for fourty years. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

A retired biology teacher is celebrating 40 years of volunteering at Hatfield Forest.

Having played in the forest as a child, Bob Reed now leads a team of volunteers who provide safe habitats for the rare species which live there.

Bob, who lives in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, grew up in the area and had a long career as a biology teacher. Always being interested in the natural world, he became involved with the coppicing team at Hatfield Forest in 1978.

Coppicing is a traditional woodland management technique involving the repeated cutting and harvesting of small diameter trees at or near ground level. It is a technique which has been carried out at Hatfield Forest for hundreds of years and today provides a safe habitat for a variety of wildlife including many rare species of insects, butterflies and fungi,

Thanks in part to Bob's team, nightingales are returning to the rare nesting sites and butterfly numbers are increasing.

Operations manager Henry Bexley said: "Bob's team do the best example of historic coppicing I have ever seen. The quality of the coppicing has had a fundamental impact on the conservation of the forest and creation of wildlife habitats."

As well as being leader of the Coppice Team at Hatfield Forest, Bob's is also chairman of the Bishop Stortford Natural History Society.

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Bob said: "The forest is really special and I like to think I'm making a contribution to the community by helping to protect it. It's an ancient woodland dating back over 1,000 years and it's amazing to have the opportunity to help look after it so future generations can enjoy it."

There are more than 25 volunteers in the coppicing team and every other Saturday from October to March, Bob and his team are out in the forest.

"Some people come for the conservation, others come because they enjoy the hands-on work and some come because they enjoy getting outside and the company. We have a great team and no matter what the weather they always turn up," Bob said.

To learn about conservation work at Hatfield Forest visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hatfield-forest.