Volunteering in Conservation – Robin Ward Tells His Story

The learning process will take a lifetime, and it is only when you start to dig deep that you realise how much our wild places and wild things require our help.

Image: Robin Ward

By: Robin Ward (Conservationist and Wildlife Photographer)

Volunteering in conservation is one of the most satisfying and rewarding things you will ever do in your life. It certainly was and still continues to be for me. When it comes to volunteering in conservation, the scope is limitless because conservation can take various shapes and forms, from education to hard graft but whichever area or project you choose or get involved with, the rewards you will reap will always far outweigh your efforts and will give you a passion that will stay with you forever. The learning process will take a lifetime, and it is only when you start to dig deep that you realise how much our wild places and wild things require our help.

I have been involved in wildlife conservation for many years and what I’ve come to realise is that one of the best ways to protect our wildlife is to first protect their habitats. Take the adder for instance. The adder is one of the UK’s most misunderstood and feared creatures, yet one of the most beautiful. I found my first adder while walking in the forest with my parents. I was just 8 years old. I was fascinated and from that moment something inside me changed, I caught the bug!

Today,  34 years later I still find adders in this same location as well as numerous others, which I have located over the years. All my survey results are sent to NARRS (National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme) and it is from these results and the results of many other volunteer surveyors throughout the UK that the decline in adder numbers over the last 5 years has been highlighted.

To help protect my locations, I have given them to the Forestry Commission so that if there is any work to be carried out, they will instantly know that there are adders in the area and contact me. This has already worked in one of my areas and without a doubt; this habitat would have been disturbed and probably destroyed without my work. If you have the passion, the dedication and knowledge, you can make a difference.

Whether you are just starting out, or thinking about volunteering in conservation, first you will need guidance. There are many organisations, which will require your help and they will be more than willing to put you on the right track. The UK Wildlife Trusts would be a great place to start as the work they carry out is breathtaking. When it comes to volunteering in conservation, the options are limitless with the number of trusts and charities across the UK and diversity of projects underway at any given time.

If there is one piece of advice I can give you it would be this.

Pass your passion onto your children as they are the future. Education is the best form of conservation.

Got questions for Rob or conservation volunteering experiences to share? Do feel free to leave your questions and comments below. Thank you 

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One Comment

  • “Volunteering in conservation is one of the most satisfying and rewarding things you will ever do in your life”

    I completely agree with this sentiment. After a fifteen year career in commercial accounting within the food industry, it was my conservation volunteering that led me to a whole new career and a much more positive, and consequently happier life.

    I resigned from my job, went back to school and studied Countryside Management, all motivated by the experiences I had enjoyed as a conservation volunteer.

    Five years on I’m now UK Operations Manager for a conservation education charity called The Wilderness Foundation. Our vision is to preserve the world’s last remaining wild places by highlighting their positive impact on the health of the individual, society and the planet.

    If it wasn’t for some cold dark November days in the woods and a a few crisp February days in the fields, I never would have arrived at this point – and the journey has only just begun.

    Richard Corby 25th August 2011 at 3:14 pm Reply
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