I’m sure you’re aware by now what Jellybean’s 12 Days of Giving is all about – It’s Jellybean’s way of giving during the season of goodwill. Throughout the year we support charities in some way, shape or form – and at Christmas it’s normally by fundraising in a very festive way. This year, however, we wanted to ‘do different’, and donate our time to a charity of our choice.

I got my thinking cap on – there are many worthy charities that are crying out for help, who would I choose? I considered charities that helped people, which there are many that are close to my heart and really support those in hardships. But I decided that I wanted to do something that rather than helped a particular group of people – helped everyone.

There’s been a lot in the news recently about how quickly we humans are destroying the planet: Overuse of plastic, deforestation to produce Palm oil, hunting species to extinction for Chinese medicine (amongst other reasons), which really resonates with me.

I live in quite a rural location, next to woodland – which I love, and it’s important to me that our countryside and ancient woodlands are protected for future generations to come. I feel very lucky to be able to step out of my front door and be surrounded by nature and so I’m passionate about taking steps to protect it.

I approached both The Woodlands Trust and Surrey Wildlife Trust to see if I could volunteer my time. Both charities take volunteers, but as I was looking to actively help out at an organised voluntary session – I decided to spend the afternoon with The Woodlands Trust, which had one such session at Langley Vale Wood (Epsom) which involved helping with the planting of 3500 trees to create a new woodland.

Wellies on, I and a hundred or so other volunteers spent the afternoon digging, planting and protecting hundreds of tiny saplings, which one day will grow into a wood of; Oak, Hazel, Ash, Beech, and Birch (to name a few).

I asked Simon Bateman, the Woodlands Trust’s site manager at Langley Vale, how important volunteering is to the trust?

“Volunteering is absolutely vital to us, the woodlands need constant management. We have seventy-thousand trees to plant at this site, this year alone, a lot of that will be done by volunteers. At this particular site we also have volunteers carrying out monitoring for rare species of plants, birds and butterflies for example – which is invaluable. It saves the trust a huge amount of money and time having these people coming out and doing regularly survey work.

“We have volunteers doing other practical work such as coppicing – which is great for biodiversity and wildlife, removing old infrastructure that’s not needed anymore – such as barbed wire, or fences that could be dangerous to people and wildlife, which would cost tens of thousands to do with contractors. We wouldn’t be able to do a lot of this work without volunteers, so volunteering is vital to the trust.”

Speaking to Simon and helping to plant the trees made me realise just how important volunteering is to the survival of the trust, and so to the protection of these ancient woods. It was a great feeling knowing that I helped to plant a wood that will hopefully be stood for hundreds of years to come. It felt good to give something back to the planet!

If you have some time to spare, and would like to get involved, just go to www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/support-us/ to see the ways in which you can help.

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