The event at Buckingham Palace marked an important step in the build up to the European Year of Volunteering in 2011. The hope is that new partnerships can open up the forest and give it life with improved tree growth, habitat restoration, woodland accessibility and - importantly, enjoyment for the volunteers.
It was agreed that organisations at the meeting could do much to encourage practical conservation work through professional or organised volunteering teams. Some of the other key issues raised were the increased dependence on volunteers for tree planting, how hard it is to actually get urban volunteers to site and the level of professional supervision required.
This is reaffirmed by Bill MacDonald FICFor, President of the Institute of Chartered Foresters, who said: "One skill a professional forester needs is the management of volunteers. The key to success of that is pre-planning at a very early stage. The more people who learn about trees and woodland the better, however volunteering is not a zero cost strategy."
The unique event, organised by the Forest Education Initiative, established an ongoing dialogue about well ordered voluntary work, as well as creating a fresh approach to partnerships between the organisations represented.
Also in attendance were the Forestry Commission, The Royal Forestry Society, Epping Forest Centenary Trust, The Historic Houses Association, The Country landowners & Business Association, England’s Community Forests, Small Woods Association, Woodland Trust, The National Trust, Prince’s trust Youth Programme, BTCV, Groundworth UK, Community Service Volunteers, Field Study Council, Tree Council.