Two Apprentice Rangers have been employed in the New Forest as part of a scheme to protect, preserve and enhance its landscape, wildlife and heritage.
Promoting awareness, understanding and enjoyment of the Forest and its surrounding areas, the apprentices will spend 13 months learning about and caring for this cherished landscape.
The apprenticeships are joint-funded by the New Forest Association and the Our Past, Our Future landscape partnership scheme, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and led by the New Forest National Park Authority and 10 key partners.
Over the course of four years, the New Forest National Park Authority is working together with the Forestry Commission, National Trust, Hampshire County Council and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust to offer two Environmental Conservation apprenticeships per year.
New apprentices Katherine Argyrou, 21, and Joe Ison, 18, began their inductions and initial training at the New Forest National Park Authority, before undertaking placements with each of the organisations ranger teams, and are currently with the National Trust.
Through these placements, they will receive training in all aspects of their role, including public engagement, natural history and practical conservation work to help manage, protect and promote the Forest’s landscape and wildlife.
The apprenticeships will also provide the trainees with land management qualifications, including chainsaw training and first aid, with courses provided by Kingston Maurwood College, Dorchester.
New Forest National Park Authority Lead Ranger Gillie Molland said: ‘We are very excited to be able to offer this opportunity to those wishing to start a career in countryside management. With fewer seasonal positions available now than when most of us started our careers, it is difficult to get on the first step of the ladder and gain the all-important experience necessary for securing future jobs.
‘This is a unique opportunity to not only learn what makes the New Forest special and how it is cared for, but also to gain experience of working with five New Forest Ranger teams and be supported by the wealth of knowledge from the New Forest Association.’
John Ward, Chairman of the New Forest Association, said: ‘For several years we have been supporting initiatives to increase understanding of the New Forest by young people. We are now very pleased to sponsor these apprenticeships, and wish Joe and Katherine well as they learn new skills for a future in countryside management within the unique environment of the New Forest.’
Apprentice Ranger Joe Ison said: ‘There’s so much to learn about this amazing landscape and its wildlife. We’re excited to be learning such a range of skills from experts in different fields and to be gaining professional qualifications to help our futures.’
Apprentice Ranger Katherine Argyrou said: ‘This is a fantastic opportunity to help care for and protect the Forest and we can’t wait to get started.’
To find out more about the Apprentice Rangers project, please visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/apprenticerangers
More information on the Our Past, Our Future scheme can be found at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/landscapepartnership