Whether maintaining footpaths and car parks, or carrying out habitat management work, brushcutting/strimming is a useful skill for someone wanting to work in conservation. As a full-time volunteer with the National Trust, I was keen to get training for it if possible. Fortunately, through funding available from the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership Project I was able to do so, along with fellow volunteer Oli.
We were signed up to a 2-day Lantra course with a training company on the Devon/Cornwall border. The first day was spent learning about the machinery, the different parts and how to look after them properly. Most of this was completely new to me but I found it really interesting and should help if I have any problems with the equipment. We also went through how to do a risk assessment before starting any work to ensure that all safety precautions have been considered. This would apply to any ranger work, not just using power tools.
On day 2 we went into the field and had some practice in using the strimmers. The instructor was able to spend time with each of us individually, giving us advice on posture or technique to make sure we were doing it correctly. We learnt different methods to use depending on material, including the use of blades instead of nylon cord.
Since the course, I have been getting more practice in strimming, so that (hopefully!) my technique and speed will improve. The rangers have been really helpful with giving advice and tips.
Many thanks to the support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Exmoor National Park Authority through the Heart of Exmoor Scheme.
Volunteer Ranger Zoe Caals