You are here: Defra > Muck In4Life > Ready to Muck In4Life > Volunteering in the countryside

Volunteering in the countryside

Bat Conservation Trust

The Bat Conservation Trust is the only national body solely devoted to saving the UK’s bats – and you can help.

You could be one of the thousand people who count bats for the Trust’s National Bat Monitoring Programme. Or you could join one of the local bat groups to take part in vital conservation work, or a team of out-of-hours volunteers on the Bat Helpline to save the lives of bats and protect their roosts. With training, you could also become a Natural England volunteer batworker – these offer free ‘roost visits’ to householders who have bats in their home to provide advice and support.

Bournemouth Borough Council – Parks and Countryside

Join Bournemouth Borough Council to help look after open spaces within Bournemouth. Tasks may involve clearing invasive species, boundary management, litter-picking and tree- and bulb-planting.

British Trust for Ornithology

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is passionate about the UK’s birds.

If you like watching birds, you can make a difference to their future by volunteering with the BTO. Your records will help alert policy-makers and conservation organisations to the changing fortunes of the UK’s birds. BTO have three areas of volunteering opportunities; Bird Atlas, Bird Track and the Breeding Bird Survey.

British Trust for Conservation Volunteers

The British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) is all about improving your health and the environment.

Join in with one of BTCV’s community conservation projects and improve your health at the same time. From bracken-bashing to repairing dry stone walls, pond de-sludging to wildflower planting, BTCV offers hundreds of environmental volunteering opportunities across the country throughout the year.

The Countryside Restoration Trust – Encouraging & Monitoring Wildlife on Farms and Rural Properties

The Countryside Restoration Trust has ten rural properties in Cambridgeshire, Herefordshire, Surrey, Essex and Norfolk – many of which are working farms combining quality food production with improvements to wildlife habitats.

You could help with all sorts of activities, including wildlife surveys, clearing pathways, removing alien species, weeding, pruning, hedge-laying and tree-planting.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

Join the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust to support the work of the education staff volunteers who take school groups of all ages out onto their nature reserves to carry out practical work and school studies. All volunteers will need to provide two references and will be subject to a full Criminal Records Bureau disclosure.

Alternatively, join one of the weekend work parties or mid-week volunteer teams to help carry out essential maintenance, conservation and recording work.

Dorset Countryside Volunteers

Dorset Countryside Volunteers is a practical conservation group run by volunteers. The work you can get involved in is wide-ranging and varies according to the season. For example, you could be doing woodland work, such as hedge-laying and coppicing in winter; and drystone walling, clearing ponds and footpath work in summer.

Some of the organisations the group works for include: Dorset Wildlife Trust, Heritage Coast Project, RSPB, Natural England, and the Herpetological Conservation Trust.

East Devon District Council

Help East Devon District Council look after its nature reserves throughout Devon. They help protect the environment for wildlife in heathland, woodland and estuary habitats and there are lots of different ways you can get involved. You might find yourself joining the wildlife surveys or helping to clear ponds, or clearing scrub and creating habitats for wildlife later in the year.

Forest of Marston Vale

The Forest of Marston Vale in Bedfordshire is one of 12 community forest projects in the United Kingdom.

The thriving volunteering section has nearly 200 people regularly getting out and about in the forest, enjoying the exercise and fresh air and doing valuable conservation work in both the forest and the Millennium Park.

Forestry Commission England

Help the Forestry Commission look after your local woodlands. Whatever your age, ability, or fitness level there are plenty of opportunities for volunteering.

You can get stuck into tasks such as tree-planting and clearing scrub, or if that’s not your thing, there are opportunities to help out with events, surveys, or even office work.

Gatwick Greenspace Partnership

The Gatwick Greenspace Partnership works in ancient woodland, meadows and heathland, as well as urban greenspaces. The group aims to enhance people’s lives through contact with nature and to help wildlife and the countryside flourish, with the help of local people.

Hatfield Moor (with Natural England)

Families are wanted to help on Hatfield Moor, near Doncaster – part of the Humberhead Peatlands National Nature Reserve, where Natural England have been grazing a rare flock of Hebridean sheep in an attempt to keep unwanted scrubland growth at bay.

It’s a chance for parents and children to get actively involved in an interesting feature of the Moor.

Volunteers are already involved in a range of activities across this National Nature Reserve site, including scrub clearance, dam installation and wildlife surveys.

The High Weald

The High Weald in East Sussex is a veritable playground for keen volunteers, as so much of its landscape is reliant on careful maintenance.

Your help is needed in the following areas: practical conservation tasks, delivering school education programmes and surveys of local features such as woodland archaeology, wildflower grasslands, routeways and historic gardens.

Kent County Council – Countryside Access Wardens

Kent County Council manages Kent’s 4,200 miles (6,700 km) of public footpaths, bridleways and byways providing free access to the county’s much-loved countryside and coast.

Volunteer Countryside Access wardens help to keep these valuable walking, cycling and horse-riding routes open and easy for everyone to use. The volunteers help by cutting back vegetation, fixing path signs and being the ‘eyes on the ground’ for their community by reporting back any bigger problems.

Kent Wildlife Trust

There are volunteering opportunities you can join throughout the county, both indoors and outdoors, on many different days and at weekends.

Land Restoration Trust

From woodlands to marshlands, from nature reserves to public footpaths, the Land Restoration Trust owns a variety of public spaces around the country. All these spaces are managed by locally based organisation for the benefit of the community.

There are always opportunities for you to get involved in your local spaces, whether it’s building bridges and footpaths, stream and pond-clearing, planting trees, habitat creation, clearing scrub, leading walks, helping run events or simply reporting the wildlife you see.

Lee Valley Regional Park

Lee Valley Regional Park offers 26 miles of parkland running from the River Thames along the River Lee to Ware in Hertfordshire. The Lee Valley Regional Park Authority is working towards creating a unique mosaic of wildlife habitats, open spaces and more formal built facilities, and you can help.

There is a wide range of volunteering opportunities for all abilities and ages at sites throughout the park. The volunteering sessions are co-ordinated by the Park Rangers who will provide an introduction to the site and project.

National Parks

Many people get great enjoyment from the National Parks. If you want to ‘put something back’ or ‘make a difference’, then why not get involved by helping with wall-building or hedge-laying, wildlife surveys or even clearing footpaths? There’s something to suit everyone!

National Trust – volunteer at your local property!

The National Trust looks after 709 miles of coastline; 250,000 hectares of land of outstanding natural beauty; and more than 300 historic houses and gardens, ancient monuments, nature reserves and parks.

As a family, group or an individual, you can get involved in a huge range of volunteering opportunities, depending on your local property – from creating and maintaining paths and fences to building wildlife habitats, clearing scrubland or surveying flowers and other wildlife. The National Trust also offers conservation weekends and specific activities for young people.

The Peak Park Conservation Volunteers

The Peak Park Conservation Volunteers group gives you the chance to take part in conservation projects within the Peak District National Park.

As a family, group or an individual, you can get involved in the following types of projects: footpath construction and repair, stile, step and footbridge building, fencing, walling, hedge-laying and tree-planting, nature reserve management and habitat protection, erosion control, drainage and pond clearance.

People & Places Project – Mendip Hills

The People & Places Project offers practical conservation volunteering, including footpath work, scrub clearance, tree-felling, drystone walling, hedge-laying, fencing, litter-picking and much more.

The PROSPECTS Foundation

The PROSPECTS Foundation have a wide range of practical opportunities in Lancashire, from guided nature walks to tree-planting, pond-dipping and habitat management.

Rochdale Council

If you have an interest in wildlife and conservation and are a regular user of a countryside area, you may be interested in becoming a Volunteer Ranger.

Tasks take place over 12 months and inlcude woodland management. Activities include felling self-seeded trees and coppicing, hedge-laying, clearing overgrown vegetation, pulling Himalayan Balsam, drystone walling, patrolling Countryside Rights of Way to check for obstructions and replace direction signs, and footpath repair. In parks areas activities include shrub-pruning and replanting herbaceous flower borders.

Alternatively, you can become a Green Volunteer and take part in activities such as re-opening countryside paths, hedge-laying, drystone walling and restoring flower borders. Help Rochdale Council make a lasting improvement to the local countryside.

Royal Horticultural Society

Volunteer with community gardening initiatives, RHS Britain in Bloom and RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood, and help to make your local area a greener and more attractive place to be.

There are thousands of opportunities to volunteer, whether you’d like to look after your local parks and community gardens, plant trees, shrubs and bulbs, establish wildlife areas or support your local school gardening club. You can also help out with litter sweeps and street furniture renovation, as well as community fundraising events.

RSPB – Nature’s Voice

Love nature? So does the RSPB. They have lots of great ways for you and your family to get involved with nature as volunteers. You don’t need to know anything about birds to volunteer with RSPB. Whatever skills, interests or time you have available they’ll find the role that best suits you.

You can get involved by helping monitor the wildlife in your area in one of their surveys. Or you can get muddy for wildlife and help the teams managing their 200 nature reserves. You might want to join in with building fences and clearing paths for visitors, creating ponds, planting hedges or putting up and monitoring nestboxes.

Sedgemoor Conservation Volunteers (Somerset Levels)

Help Sedgemoor Conservation Volunteers manage protected areas to maintain their diversity and value to wildlife. You may be able to help clean shallow ponds and ditches to prevent them becoming choked with vegetation, or to coppice and pollard woody scrub and willow to extend their life.

South Gloucestershire Council

Volunteer with South Gloucestershire Council to help protect your nature reserves and discover your local environment at the same time. You could get involved with wildlife surveys or pond-clearing in autumn (you might even take part in a peregrine watch) through to hedge-laying in the winter.

Sustrans

Sustrans is the UK’s leading sustainable transport charity. They work hard to be able to give people the option to travel in ways that benefit their health and the environment.

Join Sustrans as a volunteer at one of their 230 local groups and help them to maintain and improve thousands of miles of cycle routes so more people can enjoy safe and attractive routes into the countryside. Whether you are planting trees, pruning hedgerows or putting up bird or bat boxes, you’ll be enriching biodiversity and improving the environment for wildlife.

Sutton Nature Conservation Volunteers (London Borough of Sutton)

Sutton Nature Conservation Volunteers work on over 20 wildlife sites, each with its own habitat and challenges. Help them improve these important areas for local wildlife by giving up a few hours.

There are lots of activities available, from surveys of butterflies to checking the condition of chalk grasslands in the summer, through to traditional skills like hedge-laying, woodland management and improving footpaths over the winter months.

Sussex Wildlife Trust

There’s a wide variety of volunteer opportunities available at the Sussex Wildlife Trust, ranging from office-based administration at the Woods Mill headquarters to hands-on practical conservation in one of the nature reserves managed by the Trust.

Tameside Countryside service

From the meadows and woods of the valleys in the south to the high open moorland in the east, Tameside is a countryside rich in heritage and wildlife. Since 1976, hundreds of days have been spent by volunteers undertaking a wide variety of tasks at weekends and during the week.

Many different types of projects are tackled, usually of high conservation or amenity value. It is by no means all physical and there is something for everyone, from balsam bashing to hedgelaying and haymaking to sign-posting.

The Wandle Trust

Join a river cleanup in South London with The Wandle Trust volunteers. You’ll be helping to protect a unique urban chalkstream and improve the environment for birds, fish, insects and local people.

The Tree Council

The Tree Warden Scheme is a national initiative, founded by the Tree Council, to enable people to play an active role in conserving and enhancing their local trees and woods.

Tree Wardens are volunteers who gather information about their local trees, get involved in local tree matters and encourage local practical projects to do with trees and woods.

Warwickshire County Council – Country Parks

Volunteer with Warwickshire County Council to ensure that Rights of Way in Warwickshire are continually maintained and improved. The Countryside Access Team works in conjunction with volunteers, parish councils and environmental organisations. By working together to improve the Rights of Way network, problems are identified and dealt with more efficiently for the benefit of all users.

The Wildlife Trust – Grafham Water Midweek Volunteer Team

Situated on the southern shore of Grafham Water in the village of Perry in Cambridgeshire, Grafham Water has an excellent reputation for providing land- and water-based volunteering activities.

The Wildlife Trust – The Great Fen Education and Community volunteers

The Wildlife Trust is looking for volunteers to help develop new programmes for schools including helping making props and resource. They are also looking for help with running family events. Duties include assisting with activities, meeting and greeting people, serving refreshments etc.

The Wildlife Trust – Wildlife Watch

The Wildlife Trust is also looking for volunteers who would like to register as Wildlife Watch Leaders and Helpers. Wildlife Watch is the junior branch of the Wildlife Trust and is one of the UK’s leading environmental clubs for young environmentalists.

The Woodland Trust – Ancient Tree Hunt

The Woodland Trust has two volunteering opportunities – Ancient Tree Hunt and Tree for All:

Help the Woodland Trust on their Ancient Tree Hunt to find and map all the big old trees across the UK.

Tree For All plans to plant 12 million trees with the help of 3.5million children. There are many ways you can get involved with Tree For All, whether you are a child or a grown-up, a school, a youth group or a company.

Worcestershire Wardens

Worcestershire Wardens have volunteering opportunities to work in the parks and countryside throughout Worcestershire, including habitat creation on the Malvern Hills, hedge-laying, wildlife surveying and taking part in archaeological and geological investigations.

Wycombe District Council

Join the Ranger Service’s ‘Green Thursday Conservation Volunteer Group’ for a variety of woodland-based activities ranging from coppicing and scrub clearance to step-building, footpath work and more.

Wyre Borough Council

Wyre is a borough full of contrasts, from the wide open spaces of the Morecambe Bay and Liverpool Bay coastlines to the high moors of the Forest of Bowland and the waterscapes of the River Wyre and the Lancaster Canal. Your help is needed to manage habitats and landscape, care for countryside footpaths, monitor wildlife, look after parks and help people to enjoy the natural environment of Wyre.

Page last modified: 30 January 2012