Conservation volunteering

Volunteer

Conservation volunteering

© Surrey Wildlife Trust

Get hands on for wildlife

Volunteering is a great way to help wildlife whilst keeping fit and making new friends.

There's nothing better than working in the great outdoors with a group of like-minded people, especially in some of the most picturesque areas of Surrey!

You can volunteer as little or often as you want. We hold conservation volunteering days every week. These groups help out on our reserves to keep these important habitats in peak condition for wildlife.

To start volunteering please complete our online registration form. You'll then be sent a confirmation email and further guidance to get you started*.

Register now

*If you are under the age of 16 you will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. 16/17 year olds must also present a completed parental/guardian consent form before they start volunteering. Please find the downloadable form at bottom of this page.

Volunteer cutting scrub

Cutting scrub

About Conservation Volunteering Days

Our conservation volunteer days usually run from 10am until late afternoon, with regular rest breaks and time for lunch. We’ll also keep you topped up with refreshments and biscuits!

All sessions are led by volunteer leaders or experienced volunteers, so you don’t need to be an expert to get involved. Most work is carried out with hand tools and the Trust provides all equipment required. All you'll need are old clothes that are appropriate for the weather, study boots and a packed lunch.

What does it involve?

Discover the type of practical volunteering tasks you can help us with.

Spring/summer opportunities

✓ Access and estate management work such as fencing, steps and sign construction or gate hanging

✓ Removal of problem plant species such as ragwort or bracken

✓ Path and access improvements

✓ Setting up grazing compartments

Autumn/winter opportunities

✓ Managing habitats including chalk downland and rare heathland;

✓ Scrub clearance to improve habitat

✓ Maintaining ponds by removing overgrown vegetation

✓ Woodland management such as coppicing, hedgelaying and tree planting

✓ Removal of problem species like rhododendron

Volunteer stories

Robin Charlton

I have many interests in life, one of which is with all things relating to nature and the countryside.  Once, while taking a recreational walk on local heathland, I noticed signs indicating that the area was being managed by Surrey Wildlife Trust.  This awareness and a certain pride in our county, lead me to join the organisation, which for many years I followed as a passive member.

When I retired from full-time employment I realised that I would need something to keep me occupied, so I investigated volunteering with the Trust.  What I had not realised was that there are opportunities virtually every day of the week, so I signed up and joined the work party of my nearest geographical workgroup.
 
This has taken me back to the heath, where we are usually engaged in “scrub clearance”.  In simple terms this is the removal of invading species of trees which would otherwise come to dominate and thereby destroy the habitat needed by some of our rarest birds and animals.

The scrub is cut using hand tools provided by the Trust, then dragged or a point where it is either piled up to create an area of wildlife shelter or burnt on a bonfire.  The work can be as physical as you want it to be: cutting, dragging, fire tending; so suitable for all abilities and ages.

So what do I get out of it?  Just a few things that come to mind:

Physical exercise:  For me it is perfect, as it is steady activity over a number of hours. Personally this is greatly preferable to the sterility of a gym.

Stimulating environment:  My particular experience is that the heath is lovely in all weathers; it feels great to be working out of doors close proximity to nature
Learning:  The work can be really immersive, giving a great opportunity to see things like lichens, fungi, invertebrates, birds and get the benefit of the knowledge of my fellow volunteers and our Ranger

Sense of achievement:  The good thing about physical volunteering is that it is usually easy to see the difference that the work has made.  With heathland scrub clearance there is a real buzz at the end of our session to take a few moments to look and see just what we have achieved; and all in the knowledge that it is to the benefit of maintaining a rare habitat with its particular species of plants and animals.

Camaraderie:  I have not yet mentioned that the work parties always have tea and lunch breaks.  Hot tea and biscuits provided; the perfect opportunity to sit and chat if so inclined.  Or equally, just unwind and contemplate the day’s progress and set a personal goal for the remainder of the session. 

Jane Saunders

Whilst taking a career break I discovered Surrey Wildlife Trust and have never looked back! Having lived in Surrey all my life I think it is a great county and one that is often overlooked. I had some time on my hands and wanted to do something to care for the county and its wildlife. Little did I know just how much I would enjoy the experience and how much I would learn. Volunteering is now part of my weekly routine.

The volunteer practical work party tasks I have been involved in include cutting down scots pine, mire restoration, coppicing, building fences and mending a gate as well as moving cattle. I love it when you can see the fruits of your labours at the end of the day and know that you have made a positive difference. I originally thought that I would struggle in rainy weather and in the winter when it would be cold. However one of the best days I had was when it rained all day! If you have the right clothing and a hat you can work in any weather – although a fire in the winter always helps!

I have learned such a lot about wildlife, habitat management and just how rare some of our Surrey habitats are, such as lowland heathland. I have learned new words like hibernaculum and transect, I have seen an adder, glow worms, beautiful dragon flies and I have taken part in a nightjar survey.

The Rangers and Practical Volunteer Leaders are all very friendly, knowledgeable and willing to answer questions and share their knowledge. The volunteer work parties are a great way to meet a wide variety of people who share similar interests. Due to this camaraderie builds easily among volunteers.

from getting a good work out (the outdoors is your ‘green-gym’) did you know that being outdoors in nature can help clear and calm the mind. A report by Natural England found that being in nature has positive benefits on our wellbeing and promotes healthy living. So if you can spare a few hours a week, a month or during school holidays, look out for the practical work parties which take place on a range of days during the week as well as at weekends across our wonderful county.

Volunteer work parties are a great way to meet a wide variety of people who share similar interests
Jane Saunders
Volunteer

Specific projects

As well as our regular volunteering opportunities, you can also get more involved in specific projects within the Trust.

Hedgerow Heroes

Find out more

© Surrey Wildlife Trust

RiverSearch

Find out more

© Surrey Wildlife Trust

Volunteer enquiries

Email volunteers@surreywt.org.uk
Call 01483 795464

Volunteering Parent Consent Form