Conservation volunteering in North East Scotland

“Volunteers are not paid not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.” Sherry Anderson

Even the tea and biscuits taste better

Anyone who has ever spent a day in the outdoors clearing scrub, helping build a boardwalk (one of my particular favourites) or planting trees and wildflowers will know the immense sense of satisfaction that is derived from being part of a volunteer initiative. Even the tea and biscuits taste infinitely better when enjoyed with members of a work party.

People volunteer for a whole host of reasons; they want to contribute to their community, learn new skills, get involved in an issue that is important to them, increase social interactions or get more exercise.

The reasons for volunteering may differ from person to person, but it is almost universally agreed that volunteering can provide a very positive experience. The health benefits, both to physical and mental well-being is very well-documented. And this applies across age groups; participating in volunteering opportunities can improve the quality of life, and learning, of both the young and older generations. It increases confidence, builds resilience and helps combat stress.

“Volunteers are not paid not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.” Sherry Anderson

For those who have run a volunteer activity or project, the above quote will certainly ring true. From my personal perspective, I have learned and befitted so much from working with volunteers. Volunteers can be the eyes are ears of a project, reporting valuable sightings. They can make a huge daunting task seem possible. They can ensure the continuation of vital work when the start-up resources are depleted. They can make the project fun. They are the project.

Scottish Wildcat Action’s Trap Neuter Release Project catching and neutering feral farm cats at Candy Farm near Huntly Aberdeenshire. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

So, you want to volunteer, but where do you start? There are lots of opportunities out there, suitable for people of all ages and all abilities. The first thing to decide is where does your interest lie? If you volunteer with a project you have a personal interest in, then you are more likely to become a long-term volunteer (worth your weight in gold to a project). For a starting point, check out Volunteering Scotland.

If you already have a clear idea of what type of volunteering opportunity you would be interested in e.g. practical conservation, invasive species control, monitoring etc. then check out national organisations (such as National Trust for Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Invasive Species Initiatives) for local opportunities.  Go on, give it a go – there is something for everyone!

Young Puffin ringing ©Simon Ritchie

Young Puffin ringing ©Simon Ritchie

Participating in volunteering opportunities can improve the quality of life, and learning, of both the young and older generations.  It increases confidence, builds resilience and helps combat stress.

Rose Toney

Coordinator at The Biodiversity Partnership (2010-2019)