Tag Archives: Volunteering

Volunteer army gets wild

Across the UK there are conservation organisations, large and small, that depend on an army of volunteers to help look after special habitats and create the right environment for species to flourish.

More than ever the natural world needs us to do our bit. In just a couple of generations wildlife has started to really struggle. Barely a week goes by without a new report about the challenges facing nature in the UK and across the globe.

Getting involved in supporting a wildlife organisation by giving up some of your time is a great way to make a real difference. Armies of volunteers are helping to create the space for nature and also helping us to understand what is happening and why.

Working at the National Trust for more than a decade I got a real insight into the important role that volunteers made. From a postman who had catalogued the number of birds at Malham Tarn in Yorkshire for over forty years to people getting involved in surveying a precious coastal site in Dorset.

Groups of volunteers from companies coming in to help with improving habitats and helping to survey the land is a brilliant way to make a real difference.

If regular volunteering can prove a bit tricky in terms of time commitments there are loads of great citizen science surveys  – including the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch, the Woodland Trusts’s nature’s calendar and Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count. These really matter in terms of helping wildlife experts understand changes that are happening across the UK.

Volunteering is a wonderful way of giving back to your community and doing your bit to keep our green spaces special.




Common toads close road

It could only happen in Britain. Every year a road near to where we live in Bath is closed for the annual migration of common toads. They make their way, over a six week period, from the hills to the river and valley floor where they mate. Road signs go up saying that the road is closed and that its for access only. A great effort is made to have a divesion route and volunteers get ready to monitor the toads as they make their way east towards the mating grounds.

You could say that this is slightly mad, closing a road and making people go the long way round to get from A to B. But I think that there is something heartening about that fact that our national passion for nature can happen at such a local level and that this happens at all. The fact that the local council goes to the effort of putting in place the diversion and places the signs at each of the road is something that makes me smile every year.

We have lost so much habitat as our towns and cities expand that its great that we’re helping to keep this annual tradition alive and well; and that the dominance of the car can be checked for the benefit of the creatures that we inhabit the world with. We should celebrate that we don’t always put ourselves first and that the flora and fauna that we live with really matters to us and is something that we do and should value.

Charlcombe Valley where the road closure takes place is a special place that means alot to me. Its an oasis of calm on the edge of the city and rich in meadows and woodland. Only last year while wandering in the valley I saw a young fox in broad daylight and during the summer the hillsides come alive with butterflies.

I hope that this tradition of closing the road continues for years to come and that we can all feel pride in the fact that it continues to happen.

Go on take a local leap

Today was ‘local leap’ day. To mark the extra day we get in a leap year National Trust employees could volunteer for a project or organisation in their local community.

I chose to spend the day at Bath City Farm helping to cut turf and rake soil for a new footpath which will improve access.

The City Farm does some amazing work with its ecominds project (aimed at people with mental health issues), working with school children and the local community. The farm is more than 30 acres of north facing hillside with wonderful views across the city. There are rare breed pigs, sheep, goats and chickens; and the site is teeming with wildlife.

It got me thinking. Taking a local leap and volunteering for an organisation, large or small, is a great way to support the place where you live or work, and a chance to use your skills, experience or hard graft to help.

Places such as the City Farm are amazing. They provide a social glue that can link people and create a sense of shared experience. They need our support.

It could equally be a community orchard or woodland, or possibly a homeless shelter or youth project. As we’re living in the ‘age of austerity’ its time that we all took that leap to find out more about what makes our villages, towns and cities tick. We can all support projects and organisations whether for a few hours a week or a day a year.

Without places such as Bath City Farm our communities wouldn’t be the same. I certainly got a huge amount out of today and will be lending my support to the farm.