"The beauty of this job is there is no typical day"
At 8:00 we have a team briefing – there are only 2 rangers caring for the whole West Kent portfolio, most of which is woodland, but it also includes a whole village owned by the National Trust!
Every week I walk the boundaries, checking gates and fences, particularly if there’s stock grazing in the next field.
There may be fly tipping, so we deal with that
Working the seasons
After the briefing, I’ll go into the woods – we have a five-year management plan – what I do depends on what time of year it is. Spring and summer is the growing season – so I’ll be bush cutting and thinning scrub to keep the paths clear.
Autumn and winter is woodland work – lots of thinning out with a chainsaw. If left to grow, woodlands become very dense, the canopy closes and light can’t reach the ground. The invertebrates disappear, followed by the birds, and you end up with a dead woodland.
We create glades, openings in the woods – the vast majority of woodland species prefer to live beside a path or opening in a woods, close to light.
Our freshwater habitats also need attention, which might mean clearing weed from ponds, or shoring up the sides of a lake or river bank with traditional hazel bundles.
We conduct surveys. Our management decisions are based on what’s living in the area, so we do surveys of bats, flowers, birds, invertebrate – moths and butterflies
We might find a rare species and apply for protection, or to be a site of special scientific interest, which gives added protection for the land.
As rangers we’ll often lead walks, or organise play trails and events for children, such as 50 things to do before you’re 11¾. We’ve got a Winnie the Pooh play trail for children at the moment.
Traditional methods... and new methods
We might relay a footpath, or make steps using stone pitching, an old Roman method of maintaining footpaths.
And we get to work with tractors, 4-wheel drive trucks, quad bikes, all the boys’ toys.