30 feel-good ways to volunteer in the countryside

The countryside relies heavily on volunteers doing their bit, whether you are wildlife spotting, planting trees, building habitats or litter picking. Nicola Smith reveals 30 ways you can get involved.

15th July 2009

1. Experienced gardeners
Location: Cornwall

Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s head office has a wildlife garden designed and built by BBC Groundforce, and it is appealing to experienced gardeners with horticultural knowledge who can commit a few hours a week to exercise
their green fingers.
Tel: 01872 273939
www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk

2. Conservation volunteers
Location: Gateshead, Tyne & Wear

If you’re sociable and good-natured, and you have some free time, contact the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) to assist with practical conservation tasks across Tyne & Wear, County Durham and Northumberland. You’ll learn new skills and your expenses will even be reimbursed.
Tel: 0191 469 8431
www.btcv.org.uk

3. Flora Guardians
Location: Nationwide

Plantlife International is a charity dedicated to conserving all forms of plant life in their natural habitats, and is seeking the imaginatively named Flora Guardians to carry out surveys
and monitor rare plant sites across the UK.
Tel: 01722 342730
www.plantlife.org.uk

4. Butterfly collectors
Location: Nationwide

In an effort to preserve the dramatically declining small tortoiseshell butterfly, Butterfly Conservation is appealing for volunteers to collect batches of wild larvae this summer, to determine how many die from parasitism.
Tel: 01929 400209
www.butterfly-conservation.org

5. Plantlife volunteer co-ordinator
Location: West Country

Plantlife International is looking to train volunteers to organise, promote and plan activities such as school talks, guided walks and conservation days throughout the summer. You need to be knowledgeable about the natural world, ideally with some botanical knowledge, and able to talk to people. Opportunities range from Wiltshire to Cornwall.
Tel: 07946 841322
www.plantlife.org.uk

6. Conservation volunteers
Location: Mugdock Country Park, near Glasgow

Situated just 10 miles from Glasgow, Mugdock Country Park is looking for volunteers – from youthful 16 year-olds to experienced 95 year-olds – to join the Merkland Conservation Group, which meets once a month on a Saturday, from 10.30am to 3pm, to carry out conservation work in the Merkland local nature reserve, which is part of the park. Everyone is welcome no matter how much free time you have to give. Activities range from tree thinning to building bat boxes and counting wildlife for surveys.
Tel: 0141 578 6680
www.mcp.ndo.co.uk

7. Help to protect and maintain wildlife reserves
Location: Derbyshire

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has lots of opportunities to get involved with its conservation work. Each week the Midweek Volunteer Team carry out maintenance, conservation and recording work on the Trust’s reserves, while the Weekend Work Parties do similar tasks on Sundays. The Trust also needs volunteers to be the eyes and ears of its smaller reserves, where you may be lucky enough to spot otters.
Tel: 01773 881188
www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk

8. Gardening and building maintenance
Location: Pembrokeshire, Wales

With 10 acres of land, an organic smallholding and a number of Grade II listed outbuildings, Warren Farm in Pembrokeshire is ever evolving, and its next project is to convert two cattle barns into an open-plan creative workshop. Volunteers are needed for set weekends to work on the organic smallholding and to help convert the barns. In return you’ll get the chance to camp in this beautiful rural hideaway.
Tel: 01646 661254
www.warrenfarmwales.com

9. Organic farm workers
Location: Nationwide

Despite its bark-like name, Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) is nothing to do with canines, and instead puts volunteers keen to learn about farm work in touch with hosts who seek a helping hand, in return for accommodation and food. From tending veggie gardens to woodland work, creating rainwater harvesting systems and dry stone walling, there are numerous opportunities for you to learn new skills at organic farms throughout the UK.
Email: info@wwoof.org.uk
www.wwoof.org.uk

10. Marshland discovery volunteers
Location: Rainham Marshes, Essex
The Marshland Discovery Zone, in the middle of RSPB Rainham Marshes, is designed to educate visitors about the role of the marshes, with its pond-dipping platform, wildlife garden and children’s adventure play area. The RSPB is looking for a volunteer to keep the Discovery Zone tidy and enthuse visitors to support RSPB work. If you love wildlife, meeting people and have a particular interest in Britain’s birdlife, and you can commit a couple days each week, get in touch.
Tel: 01708 899840
www.rspb.org.uk

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