How volunteering can help to preserve our natural environment

How volunteering can help to preserve our natural environment
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It seems that people are finally cottoning onto the fact that since the Industrial Revolution, human society has inflicted untold damages on the natural environment. Fortunately, more and more organisations are undertaking green initiatives which advocate the use of energy saving devices in offices, creating products using sustainable materials, eliminating hazardous waste products from production processes and more. While some of these stories are truly inspiring, you don’t have to be a member of a multinational corporation to have a positive effect on the environment. In the UK, there are numerous organisations dedicated to conserving the countryside and its wildlife with which you can get involved today.

Green organisations

The Wildlife Trusts is an organisation consisting of 47 local Wildlife Trusts throughout the UK (check out this map to find your local branch). There are numerous causes you can donate to via the organisation, including: badger vaccination programmes, conservation appeals for various woodland areas, and protection initiatives for endangered species. For bird lovers, the organisation offers a scheme for buying bird feed from Vine House Farm, where a percentage of all profits will be funnelled back into environmental causes. However, for those looking for a more ‘hands-on’ approach to conserving the countryside, volunteers – corporations as well as individuals – are always highly appreciated.

There are currently over 30,000 active volunteers throughout the 47 Wildlife Trusts in the UK, carrying out a series of activities including: community gardening, managing habitats, looking after nature reserves and wildlife, hedge-laying, giving lectures to children and more. To find out about volunteering opportunities with The Wildlife Trusts, please complete this online form and let them know which local branch you would like to help out with.

Hedge LayingEarth Trust is another environmental charity which is renowned for its local events where you can get your hands dirty and leave with a real sense of achievement. Hedge laying (the skill of creating and maintaining hedgerows) is essential for protecting crops and wildlife from the weather, and this valuable skill can be learnt by attending one of Earth Trust’s splendid countryside events. During Earth Trust’s two-day hedge laying weekend this February, you can gain some excellent training in how to maintain a hedgerow for yourself and also learn about different hedgerow styles and the tools involved.

Earth Trust also offers various events which advocate biking as a method of reducing one’s carbon footprint, such as their Wings and Wheels event which teaches basic bike mechanics. Earth Trust’s many other environmentally friendly upcoming events can be viewed here. Earth Trust are based in Little Wittenham, which is covered in our upcoming Dorchester on Thames Roman Tour. So for those looking to explore a wonderful location for a few days, why not combine one of our exciting walks with a fun event hosted by Earth Trust?

Other key organisations include: The National Association of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (NAAONB), The National Trust, Natural England and some local councils, all of which have opportunities for you to get involved.

Take the initiative

While there are excellent opportunities offered by the aforementioned organisations, you’re also free to take your own initiative and tackle an issue which is close to your heart. One inspiring example is the story of Rosie and Jimmy Reid, who were troubled by the dwindling red squirrel population in the UK and sought to take action. The couple organised a team to feed squirrels, protect them from predatory domestic pets and maintain a secure area for breeding in a small woodland enclave in Muirhead, Scotland. They fund their activities by selling calendars featuring beautiful photographs of the creatures which they work so hard to protect.

Other options for taking the initiative include: hosting street parties to raise awareness of an environmental issue, doing a run for charity, starting an e-petition or running social media campaigns. There are numerous ways to help preserve the British countryside and its wildlife – the only limits are in your imagination!

(Photos by Martin Stone and Lil Shepherd)

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