Getting Outdoors and Volunteering

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Did you know that only 13% of the UK is covered in trees compared with 37% of the average European country?

If you’re passionate about making the most of our planet and creating a more stable environment for future generations, then conservation volunteering could be for you. It’s a great opportunity to get outdoors and interact with nature.

Some roles are more physical than others but even if you’re in poor health, there’s something for everyone from desk research to help protect ancient trees through to bumble bee monitoring and being a woodland warden.For conservation opportunities abroad, please see our Volunteering Abroad section.

What sort of roles are available?

Working in active outdoor roles

Gardening / Cleaning Up

Gardening is a physically demanding role with varying levels of commitment. It’s a way to get creative and be hands on in the great outdoors. RHS Gardens often need voluntary gardeners to join their garden teams, and historic and cultural sites such as The Brunel Museum rely on gardeners to help maintain their grounds.

You could also take on a volunteering role that helps to protect and preserve natural spaces. For example, National Trust recruit volunteers to cleanup beaches and help to maintain their natural beauty.

With the population continuing to grow, it is more important than ever that we pay attention to the impact we are having on our environment with respect to litter, pollution, and general scarcity of resources. By volunteering your time to help enhance the natural beauty of a space (either regularly or on a one-off occasion), you can help make our planet a nicer place to be.

Recording and monitoring wildlife

beautiful tree

This includes monitoring and recording livestock, trees and other plant life to keep track of how our environment is functioning as a whole. For example, as an Ancient Tree Recorder for Woodlands Trust, you are required to find, identify and record trees. You will add tree records to the Ancient Tree Inventory (ATI); a living database which already contains 170,000 ancient, veteran and/or notable trees – but there are still plenty of trees out there waiting to be discovered!

Tree records may contain comments, photos and measurements and should be updated to include information about tree growth and/or change. Recording and monitoring roles such as these require a combination of outdoor and desk work and usually aren’t very physical.

Seed collection

seed collection

Seed collecting is a popular conservation activity usually conducted by a team of volunteers. This role is perfect for anyone that has an interest in different native tree species as you’ll be collecting tree seeds and cuttings using simple tools and equipment.

This work aims to improve the availability of certain plant species that are diminishing; the cuttings and seeds will be planted in an suitable environment where they can thrive and continue to reproduce. This activity can be done long or short term and is done on a seasonal basis e.g. in the autumn when many trees release their seeds.

Children’s Activity Leader

If you’re passionate about helping children connect with nature, then this could be the role for you. By volunteering for a charity like RSPB, you could work with children aged 7-12 on a monthly basis to run exciting activities that involve direct interaction with nature. You’ll need lots of energy and enthusiasm, as well as a desire to help protect and preserve our natural environment by inspiring future generations.

Additional roles supporting nature charities and services (usually indoors)

For more information on supporting the environment  in ‘behind the scenes’ roles, please click through to our Driving, Charity Shop Work, Office & Admin and Fundraising, or explore the range of charities below.

Where can I volunteer?

Royal Society for Protection of Birds, Woodland Trust, Foundation and Friends of The Royal Botanic Gardens – Kew, The National Trust, Scottish National TrustRHS Gardens

Volunteering in your local community
If you’d like to focus your time on supporting outdoors in your local community, you could contact local farms, national parks and nature reserves to enquire about current vacancies and how to apply.

If you’re interested in volunteering outdoors, then why not head over to the volunteering section of our site where you can browse opportunities near you?

Why volunteer later in life?

More and more people are finding satisfaction in Volunteering. Find out why you should become a volunteer and the benefits it can bring.

Find your purpose

Volunteer for a charity and you will be joining a mission to make the world a better place. Find a cause that inspires you and get started.

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