Kubota has formed a partnership with the Forest of Marston Vale, part of England's Community Forests which together form the country's largest environmental initiative.
Kubota Tractor Business Unit marketing manager Rob Edwards, ranger Lottie Scoltock and senior ranger Nicola Ceconi with the RTV X-1140 supplied to the Forest of Marston Vale
For over 25 years the Forest of Marston Vale Trust has been working with local communities, businesses and partners to plant trees and create new woodland across 61 square miles between Bedford and Milton Keynes; transforming a landscape once dominated by brick making, mineral extraction and landfill while growing tree cover from just 3.6% to well over 15%. The 12 new Community Woodlands are an extraordinary local resource bringing significant environmental, economic and social benefits to the area. The newest, Queens Wood near Houghton Conquest, also has the honour of being Bedfordshire's Jubilee Wood, part of the Queen's Green Canopy initiative to mark the Platinum Jubilee.
A core target for creating the Forest is increasing tree cover to 30%, a tenfold increase, as a means to transform the social, economic and environmental prospects of the area. The Forest of Marston Vale Trust, working with local communities, businesses and partners, has already increased tree cover to over 15%.
At the heart of the forest is the Millennium Country Park, 225ha of woodland, wetland, lakes and meadows. The Park, a fifteen-time winner of the prestigious Green Flag Award welcomes up to half a million people each year, and offers local people and visitors to the area the opportunity to get outdoors and connect with nature
It is cared for by a team of five forest rangers who need to travel around 8km of hardened path, 4km of horse trail and numerous tracks to plant and care for trees and maintain wetlands. Kubota has supplied the team with a new RTV X-1140 utility vehicle to help make their work more efficient, safer and more convenient.
The RTV X-1140 is powered by the renowned Kubota engine delivering 24.8hp, and can carry up to four people in comfort plus their cargo, or quickly switch to a two-seater with even more space for tools and equipment.
Senior ranger Nicola Ceconi comments: "We have to be able to travel on grassland and to work on the wetlands outside the season for ground nesting birds; some of the site can only be accessed by this type of vehicle, on foot or bicycle. It's often muddy and we certainly need off-road capability, yet many of our paths are narrow and we can encounter cyclists or walkers so the compact size of the RTV is an advantage. We rarely need to use four-wheel drive and the Kubota's low ground pressure is appreciated for the more sensitive landscapes."
The full-size cargo bed offers plenty of room for tools and equipment, but the team often need to switch back to four-seater mode for jobs requiring more labour.
"It's a quick and easy swap - when we had our training on this new machine it was good to see how simple it was to convert," says ranger Lottie Scoltock. "The bed also has a useful hydraulic tipping function for jobs such as mulching flowerbeds."
Nicola adds that the RTV is driven by all of the members of the team who appreciate its straightforward KVT automatic transmission and is spacious and comfortable to drive.
"It has an open sided cab which is easy to get in and out of and much cooler in summer. We really enjoy having the RTV and it makes our job so much easier."
Forest of Marston Vale commercial director Grant Sorrell comments: "The loan of the RTV X-1140 by Kubota makes a huge difference to our work. It's a small team with a significant task so anything that makes us more efficient is a godsend."
It's part of a programme of community support by Kubota, which is based nearby at Thame in Oxfordshire.
"The Forest of Marston Vale was identified by our employees as a deserving community organisation to support, and it's clear to see the tremendous social and environmental benefits it offers for current and future generations," comments Kubota Tractor Business Unit marketing manager Rob Edwards. "It is an excellent fit with Kubota's 'For Earth, For Life' ethos. We are delighted to support the team with the loan of the RTV X-1140 which is perfectly at home in this type of application."