Wednesday 30 October 2019
Partner Interview: Leila, Community Ranger, Chiltern Rangers
On behalf of our delivery partners Chiltern Rangers, Leila- a Community Ranger- will be leading on the delivery of practical works under the Landscape Connections project, as well as on the People and Mills of the River Wye project.
What motivated you to work with the Chiltern Rangers?
The fact that I know them, and that they are a great bunch of people! Before I became a full-time, permanent member of staff, I volunteered for Chiltern Rangers as volunteer Ranger for about 20 months. I might be a bit biased, but I think some of the best people doing some of the best work are housed in this Social enterprise/Community Interest Company called Chiltern Rangers.
What is the best thing about your job?
Getting to work outdoors, to enhance and protect our local habitats for wildlife. I love that I am doing work that truly matters. In light of the catastrophe that is climate change and global warming, as well as the increasing loss of wildlife habitat and therefore species, I feel that doing work in this little corner of my planet is one of the best ways for me to contribute how best I can.
Why do you think partnerships are so important in conserving the Chilterns?
Because it belongs to all of us! There is no one person or body of people who can say they own the Chilterns, there is no one person who should shoulder the responsibility of looking after this stunning area of outstanding beauty we live or work in. We all have a responsibility to work together to take better care of the spaces we live in, in particular the natural spaces, before they all disappear! Working partnerships are, in my opinion, the best way to get a whole array of different people working together towards a common goal.
What are the goals of the projects ‘Landscape Connections’ and ‘People and Mills of the River Wye?’
To look after and create new habitats, by both engaging local landowners as well as local communities to promote collaborative working in order to keep the Chilterns landscapes and habitats as they are for both people and wildlife to enjoy.
How can people get involved in these projects? And why should they?
By coming along to volunteer at our work parties or even volunteering within the office to help provide administrative or other support to the project. There are so many reasons to do this - not only are you directly contributing to the preservation of the Chilterns landscapes, habitats and biodiversity but also it's an opportunity to come out, have fun, get fit and enjoy the great outdoors. That may sound a little cheesy, but I can confirm, first-hand, just how good doing this work can make you feel!
Why do you think it is important to engage young people in the conservation work that the CCC aims to achieve?
Because young people are our future! We don't live forever, and I feel it is important to hand down the knowledge, understanding and enthusiasm regarding our natural heritage in the area. Young people are our tomorrow.
What does the Chilterns AONB mean to you?
Where to start, it means so much to me! I grew up in South East Asia, but my Dad grew up in Windsor. He and his father, my Granddad, used to walk the Chilterns when my Dad was a boy. When I fell quite significantly ill, as I started to recover my Dad would take me on many of the walks he did with my Granddad, all around the Chilterns. We would literally pick an OS Map, pick an area and walk, for hours. I fell in love with what he fell in love with as a boy - the rolling hills, the chalk grasslands and beech woods, and more importantly, how I felt when I was out and about. It was this relationship with the land that I feel truly helped 'fix' me and I felt driven to do what I could to help preserve this natural beauty. I haven't looked back since - that is why the Chilterns AONB means so very much to me, and always will.
What have you been up to in September in partnership with the CCC?
September saw the first large Chiltern Rangers event for the Chalk, Cherries and Chairs project! A warm and fiery day of scrub clearance for the myriad butterflies that have been sighted this summer at Sands Bank. Including, but not limited to, a White-letter Hairstreak, a Dark-Green Fritillary, as well as numbers of Adonis, Chalkhill and Holly Blues, amongst many others. There were also a phenomenal amount of Marbled Whites, coming in at a count of 778! Overall 1872 butterflies were counted at this site over the summer, so the hard work the volunteers will hopefully help increase these numbers even further, making Sands Bank even more attractive to even more butterflies! There will be plenty more opportunities like this and we want YOU to come and get involved! Keep your eyes peeled for more opportunities to get involved, have fun and give back to the beautiful Chilterns and it's wildlife. Your countryside needs you, folks!
Find out more about the Chiltern Rangers here.