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Seeking volunteers or possibly volunteer network

Hi folk

Myself and my partner are seeking regular weekly or fortnightly volunteers to help in our woodland. (EX21 5XF see
If anyone in our area is interested please email
Also has anyone thought of a voluntary work exchange network run by Downsizer? I'm sure this must have been suggested before (and if so, why hasn't it been adopted?)
What I have in mind is members of Downsizer request voluntary help (either day help or residential) from other members, providing all food etc along the lines of WWOOF, under the proviso that the work is reciprocated by a certain time.
As for us we could do with lots of help in the woodland ahead of local authority visits, and would gladly receive help this winter with tree care in return for which we could travel early spring to reciprocate.

What do people think?


Mistress Rose

There are other sources of volunteers if you want them. Your local Volunteer Bureau may be able to help, or colleges, Scouts or Guides. You can also get help through TCV (formerly BTCV), but they tend to do what they see fit, or through your local country park or AONB.

One thing you do need to consider is insurance. We get ours through TCV, but you may have to spend a couple on hundred pounds a year on it.

We have had our own Volunteer Group for about 10 years now. It was partly because people who knew the wood wanted to do something and partly the group son used to belong to which became homeless when the political situation at the council site became untenable.

I know a few members have used Wwooof and Helpx. From my point of view, it's not really worth duplicating something done elsewhere on a large scale (the odd request is different).
Plus a lot of folk have many other things going on where a work exchange isn't really part of the plan, y'know? Smile

Had a quick peek at your website, how's the pack horse doing?
I've also dabbled in forest gardening on a teeny scale if you want to bounce ideas around (I have Martin Crawford's book at least!)

There's always lots of helping out done by various Downsizers, but given that we cover the whole globe, logistically it isn't something we could cover centrally.

Have you approached the Devon Wildlife trust or the Biosphere lot?


Thanks folk, already using wwoof, and DWT and Biosphere people have been useful but not for volunteers although perhaps I need to explore that more, thanks for the thought!

We are 20 acres and 2 people and committed to hand tool use so there is a lot to do!

Thanks again all.
Mistress Rose

Depending upon what you are doing and how big your trees are, it might be commendable to use no power tools, but is there really any point?

If you have small trees to be thinned and not many of them; 20 acres of new woodland won't produce that much, then fine, but if you have a lot of bigger trees, you could be there for days on one tree, at which point safety comes into it too.

Although chainsaws only came in during the 1960s, you had to be very tough to work in the woods before that, and very fit.

We are working 63 acres of semi-natural ancient woodland which was mainly hazel with standards and ash and hazel coppice until the mid-1960s when it was just left. Some of the ash coppice we are now cutting is 18" across and rotted at the base, so a quick, clean cut is essential for safety.
Green Rosie

When I worked in woodland management we used chainsaws on bigger trees (the staff and some volunteers were all chainsaw trained) and smaller trees were cut by hand. There is no way we could have achieved the level of management we did without chainsaws. You can use biodegradable veg oil in chainsaws Linky

However if you do chose to move over to chainsaws you will need the appropriate insurance and no non-trained person should be let anywhere near a chainsaw.

I've heard people make similar comments about scything, i.e. there's no way someone could cut an acre or two of grass without a mower/tractor or whatever. Many people do cope very well however.

It can't be impossible to manage woodland, certainly on a domestic level, without using chainsaws. To date I've managed mine with a good quality hand saw and it sounds similar to the OPs.

I understand the safety concerns but having seen what some people get up to with chainsaws I'm not sure that's a good argument.

What I do think is a shame is the number of chainsaw courses around but I've not found any that go over the basics of small tree felling just using a hand saw.

What I do think is a shame is the number of chainsaw courses around but I've not found any that go over the basics of small tree felling just using a hand saw.

Any use?

What I do think is a shame is the number of chainsaw courses around but I've not found any that go over the basics of small tree felling just using a hand saw.

Any use?

Ty Gwyn

Fully agree with Mistress Rose,

To put it bluntly,if you used a chainsaw you would`nt need to look for volunteers to do the work for you.

missing the point

Getting in volunteers has social and environmental benefits. Using hand tools and volunteers is part of a wider integrated ethos, and I know of plenty of other places that do it. Lorrainelovesplants

Good luck. You obviously know your market if you know other places who have done it. Mistress Rose

Yes, it does, Silenthaven, but you need to consider practicalities and safety. As I said, while you have small trees, you are all right, but we have big ones, some of which need expert attention. You might find a professional who is willing to spend all day with a saw being ready to run at a moments notice from a kneeling position, but I think you would be more inclined to get a refusal or a reading of your character which would not be flattering if you insisted on only hand saws.

Our volunteer group only cut things like hazel that hasn't grown to more than 2-3 inches diameter and is neither tall not heavy. You also never know who will turn up. Last weekend we had only one in the active group and 4 in the less active group.

I think it depends who you can get and what results you want/expect.

If it's a case of "these trees need to go PDQ" then get someone in with a chainsaw.
If it's more "this needs clearing over a couple of years but it's important to also train people / attract buyers / not buy petrol" then use volunteers. Also beware insurance, liability, etc etc.
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