Gerry grew up in rural Ireland and has always loved the outdoors, wildlife and the environment. After a career in the Army, he has worked hard to build a new lifestyle and career which immerses him in the natural world. He now works as a Forest Ranger at Forest Holidays, where his job is to engage guests in the woodlands and wildlife by running activities and experiences. Volunteering for Foresters’ Forest appealed to him because of the opportunity to plunge deeper into the ecology of the Forest of Dean and because of the community focus of the programme which engages so many local people in taking care of the precious local heritage.
Gerry has become a committed volunteer on several Foresters’ Forest projects. “I’m volunteering mainly on Batscape, Reptiles and Waterways.” Said Gerry. “The Forest of Dean has so many layers and being involved in several projects keeps deepening my understanding of how interlaced and connected they all are. The ecology is all linked for sure, but also the local history and heritage are inseparably tied in.”
Gerry is loving his involvement and the opportunities it is allowing him. “I’ve clocked up over sixty hours on Batscape alone so far. I’ve done Greater Horseshoe radio tracking and have been so privileged to go out with some prominent and highly experienced experts within the ‘bat world’. I’ve witnessed the bats been caught and tagged [under licence] and see them being tagged. Its so rewarding to be a part of this and then see exactly where they go via the tracking.”
Growing up in Ireland, where there are few reptiles, has made Gerry curious about these creatures, and during his travels in Australia and Asia he developed a real passion for them. “The reptile monitoring is very exciting! Once I found two adders, one grass snake, nine slow worms and two common lizards in twenty minutes surveying a small area!” Gerry exclaimed. “It’s been great working with David Dewsbury [Reptiles Project Leader]. He has been able to help me establish an area near to where I work for regular reptile monitoring, which is very exciting.”
Gerry’s volunteering with Foresters’ Forest has enriched many areas of his life. He is completing an Open University Degree in Environmental Studies. “My experiences on the projects are all really feeding into my studies. I’m a big fan of restoring natural processes and I feel that I’m gaining a lot of understanding of that as I involve myself more.” Gerry said.
“It is also enhancing my experience professionally,” he said, “I can take all the knowledge back to feed into my Ranger walks and talks. My personal ethos is all about ‘people power’.” Gerry explained. “I'm passionate about environmental protection and I feel that as I develop my knowledge and understanding of the natural world, I can continue to enthuse about it to others. This can be incredibly powerful as those who feel more connected to nature are more likely to want to preserve and protect it. Local level impacts are very important and in sharing my experiences gained through volunteering I feel that I am having a ripple effect through all the people that participate in my ranger activities. Foresters’ Forest has a lot of ‘people power’ in this way, spreading outwards an appreciation for nature through all the many projects and local people involved.”
You might be surprised what you find!
From creating habitats for our wildlife or improving our waterways, to recording oral histories or finding old photos, there’s always something going on to get involved in!