Report of the Superintendent of Burnham Beeches, Stoke Common and City Commons.
The Head Ranger introduced a report of the Superintendent on the Volunteer Improvement Plan 2013. He noted that volunteers made a huge contribution to the City Commons and that Ashtead Common, in particular, would not be what it was without it. He added that rangers were keen to develop volunteer leaders and assisting external partners from doing the same. He highlighted the Volunteer Tree Warden scheme as one of the successful outcomes of the plan during 2013 and that a further plan would be developed next year.
In response to a question from Professor Hawksworth over whether volunteers were trained in understanding the ecology of sites, the Senior Ranger replied that training on ecological matters tended to take place on a task-by-task basis as part of the task briefing.
Barbara Newman welcomed the effort that rangers were putting into developing volunteer roles and the news that voluntary attendance at Ashtead Common was popular.
In response to a question from Councillor Townsend regarding the continuation of the Volunteer Tree Warden Scheme continuing now that a member of staff had left, the Head Ranger confirmed that it would be continued.
In response to a question from the Chief Commoner whether any Freedoms of the City had been awarded to City Commons volunteers, the Chairman confirmed that these had taken place, and furthermore volunteers were also invited to an annual reception at Epping Forest to thank them for their contributions.
In response to the observation from Wyn James that high numbers of volunteers were coming forward at Ashtead Commons, the Senior Ranger confirmed that, to maximise efficient task allocation and volunteer satisfaction, tasks were designed for a maximum group size of 20-24 persons which inevitably meant that a small waiting list was maintained of persons wishing to volunteer some time on the Common.