The number of park rangers in Bushy and Richmond parks is set to double according to plans announced by Royal Parks on Monday.
As part of a three-year pilot scheme, 25 volunteer park rangers were recruited at the beginning of the year, which Royal Parks is looking to increase after a successful trial run.
The job description involves engaging visitors, including directing guests to the best walks, educating them on the history of the parks and the wildlife that inhabits it.
Jo Haywood, who leads the service for The Royal Parks, said: “Recent research indicates that visitors to both these parks would welcome more information on the history, trees and wildlife in the park. This service satisfies this need, as well as educating visitors on wildlife protection issues.”
The park rangers mainly operate at the weekend, and are active from April to October every year.
Before he became a volunteer ranger, Duncan MacCallum (pictured above, left) from East Sheen was an avid walker and visited Richmond Park often.
Mr MacCallum said: “It felt like a natural fit to try and give a little bit back by acting as a ranger.”
One of his favourite hobbies is to go walking, and just recently Mr MacCullum visited the national parks in the USA.
“We knew very little about the parks when we arrived, and if you meet them early on, the rangers can transform a visit in the national parks where you get to see all the things you wouldn’t otherwise know about and we’re just trying to emulate something like that,” he said.
Part of the job is exposing visitors to history and nature and ensuring they get the most out of their visit.
“We teach some of the children about how to age the oak trees based on circumference. An oak tree grows grows one metre circumference every 100 years. Your average child’s arm span will be about a metre, so if they span their arms around the tree and count how many spans it is, that’s 100 years for every span.”
Trainees undergo classroom training, and are walked around the park and told in depth about what is actually being seen, and the key highlights of the park.
The scheme has been so successful that there are plans to expand to other royal parks.
Orange-clad park rangers can be expected to appear in Greenwich park in the summer, as Royal Parks rolls out the scheme across other parks.
Applicants must be over eighteen, applications close on May 30, and all volunteer rangers will receive full training. For more information and to apply, visit the website.
Feature image credit: The Royal Parks.