The FoTF committee met virtually last week and focused on what we need to do to enable a safe return to volunteering. We've read the Forestry England guidance and also that produced by East District, but as an independent organisation, we are putting together our own risk assessments to mitigate the risks posed by Covid-19 and to safeguard you, our volunteers.
We are also updating the Volunteer Welfare Form. If you are intending to resume volunteering or would like to take part, we will require each one of you to complete and return this form, so that we have your current details.
The risk assessments and our safety guidelines will be shared with FE, as a matter of courtesy and because it is the forest land manager controlling permission. Once we have agreement, we can then email them to you, together with the welfare form.
We would very much like to begin volunteering again sometime in the autumn - with the walking trails' checking and the archaeological sites; monitoring, followed by a gradual return to safe-distancing groups for conservation tasks and at Lynford Arboretum. However this is dependent on FE's agreement and resources and the on-going Covid-19 situation.
Please be assured that we do not want anyone to return who does not think it is safe or appropriate for them to do so.
Trailing the Hidden Heritage of High Lodge
In 2018 Forestry England were awarded £610,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund for a project to make a new trail into the forest to link and interpret its landscape history, wildlife and forest management.
The involvement of volunteers has been the most outstanding aspect of the project. Some were already members of FoTF or have become members and others were completely 'new' to High Lodge and the Thetford Forest.
They have attended forty-eight workshops, day schools or events and carried out research into the historic landscape and the wildlife of High Lodge. This information they have amassed has contributed to the interpretation, dedicated website, and to the learning materials, with a group of especically dedicated volunteers writing the learning activities for both primary and secondary schools.
Overall, the volunteers have given an astonishing 4,326 hours to the project, which amounts to £30,900 of their time (calculated at £50.00 for a 7-hour day).
FotF can't thank them enough for their enthusiam, commitment and dedication. They have made the project very special to FoTF.
Forestry England staff have been involved too, with ten recording the tracks for the audio-listening posts along the trail and up to eight others giving generously of their knowledge and experience
High Lodge Heritage Trail
This 4.2km all-ability trail, with short cuts at 1 km and 3 km, makes the forest and its heritage more accessible for everyone as it has a smooth surface suitable for buggies, mobility scooters and wheelchairs and benches and perches at 100m intervals.
Eight audio-listening tell the stories of the heritage features along the trail. Two shelters contain infornmation panels about the wildlife and timber production.
Please make sure you walk the trail when you're at High Lodge - some of the interpretation will change with the seasons - and enjoy the benefits of this National Lottery Heritage Fund funded project.