At the beginning of the year, 25 Volunteer Rangers were recruited to operate in Bushy and Richmond Parks, from April to October annually. The service is a three-year pilot and operates on most weekends to share information with visitors about the history and nature of the park, as well as educate them on wildlife protection issues such as keeping 50 metres from the deer.
In its first month of operation (April 2019), over 900 visitors to Richmond and Bushy Parks were engaged with topics such as where best to go for walks, deer birthing season and the plight of the soulful skylark.
Jo Haywood, who leads the service for The Royal Parks, said: “Recent research indicates that visitors to both these parks would welcome more information on the history, trees and wildlife in the park. This service satisfies this need, as well as educating visitors on wildlife protection issues, such as the importance of keeping their distance from deer or how we can all help boost skylark numbers.
“The first stage of the programme has been so successful that we are looking to double our numbers and recruit another 25 Rangers in these parks. We will be also be extending the service to another one of London’s eight Royal Parks – Greenwich Park – in the summer.”
Richmond and Bushy Parks are the two largest of London’s eight Royal Parks. Together they span over 3,500 acres of historic parkland in London and are home to over a thousand wild red and fallow deer. Both sites are of national importance because of their contribution to wildlife and nature, with Richmond Park designated a National Nature Reserve and both parks designated as ‘Sites of Special Scientific Interest’ by Natural England.
Volunteer Ranger Duncan MacCallum, who lives in East Sheen said: “I have been a Ranger in Richmond Park for just over a month now and I have to say the response has been amazing so far. We have bright orange uniforms so it’s hard to miss us, my daughter calls me a smiling traffic cone!
“Encouraging visitors to explore and find out more about the nature that surrounds them is an important part of this role. I like to show people how to measure the age of oak trees and why it’s important for visitors to be extra vigilant during deer birthing season. If we want people to look after something, we have to show them why it matters.”
Volunteers need to be over 18 to apply and must be able to commit to one day a month on a weekend between July and October. Full training will be given.
Deadline for applications is noon on 30 May 2019. For more information and to apply, visit www.royalparks.org.uk/rangers