United Kingdom | Volunteers strive to restore the historic forest to its original size

This story of resilience is the result of the efforts of a British organization working with local communities


Hay Wood is one of countless forests around the world that have been cleared by humans. An ancient forest in Luton, UK, which has been cut in half since the 1940s.

In the face of such natural devastation, it is easy to feel helpless and climate anxious. One way to combat it is to get out into nature and volunteer time and energy to make a difference. This was confirmed by volunteers from the non-governmental organization Wildlife Trust, which manages local communities to engage in environmental conservation and restoration.

Community programs

Zoology student Arun Mathew is passionate about supporting nature.

He gave up Sunday mornings to plant seedlings in the rain, but says there’s no place he’d rather be.

“It can be very bleak, and as people I feel like we have a disconnect, you know, because we live in a more urban environment. Sometimes it’s weird to go out and really interact with the environment,” she says. “There’s also the benefit you’re contributing to the environment by simply being conserved Create that space for nature to flourish“.

Matthew says volunteering in nature can help restore a sense of positivity.

“Like everyone, I get anxious sometimes, but I feel like anxiety is characterized by a feeling of helplessness. And I think that’s when it comes down to it Climate change“We have to break this deficit mold, because there are things we can do.”

“We can make a difference, we can make a difference. And it’s okay to invest in areas you’re passionate about, to know that like-minded people elsewhere are doing the same thing.”

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Wildlife Trust It is a British charity that aims to create positive change through community programmes.

With nearly a million members and over 35,000 volunteers, it’s a way to bring people together to start making positive change. For example, it has improved water quality along 4,600 km of rivers and streams and restored more than 43,000 hectares of peatland.

Matt Sutcliffe, Community and Education Manager at the Wildlife Trust in Bedfordshire, organized the tree planting. He fully recognizes the vital role volunteers can play in improving our local environments.

“Our sites and the sites of many other homeowners would not be in the good condition they are without the help of volunteers,” he says. “I know we have hundreds of registrants.”

“We don’t have hundreds of people at each session, but we have 20 to 25 people who come in to help us run things.”

Some volunteers have been restoring Hay Wood for years. Trees planted 10 years ago have already established themselves and are thriving.

Sutcliffe regularly speaks to schools and young people who are concerned about climate change and the damage humans are causing to their natural world. He believes that making a contribution, such as this voluntary tree planting scheme, is a good way to combat this concern.

“It’s obviously anxiety-provoking and depressing, but if you do something, you can tone it down a little bit,” he adds.

Tree planting is physical work, but it’s not too strenuous, so it’s a good way to get involved.

There are volunteers of all ages, young and old.


In addition to planting trees, they also have to take care of the wood. Blackberries can become overgrown, so they should be pruned and burned so new seedlings can be established.

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Hay Wood still has a long way to go before it reaches its former limits, but work like this ensures a brighter future for this little patch of woodland.

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