Volunteering: Ways to Give Back to Nature in Devon
We often get asked how individuals and companies can get involved with environmental volunteering to make a practical, tangible difference to nature on the ground, here in Devon.
There are lots of ways you can give back to nature, some of which are seasonal, and some that can be done at any time of year.
Whether you’re organising a company team bonding exercise, or just getting a few friends together to do some good, here are some ideas to get you started…
FUNDRAISING FOR DEF
- We are oversubscribed with brilliant projects delivering vital Nature-based Solutions in Devon, so we are always looking for new sources of revenue to fund their work.
- If you have connections that might like to donate to DEF, or have ideas for fundraising, or some time to approach people on our behalf, we’d be very grateful!
- This one-pager summarises how we work and you are welcome to share it among your network.
- We can also send you postcards (at no cost to you) to distribute in your local area or among key audiences.
- Our main call-to-action is to persuade individuals/small businesses to make a monthly donation to join the Devon Nature Club.
- Larger businesses and other larger donors may like to get in touch to explore adopting or co-funding one of the projects in our pipeline – we appreciate all introductions.
- Many thanks for your support enabling us to fund more nature-positive initiatives in Devon!
BEACH CLEANS/PLASTIC CLEAN UP
- Activity: Removing plastic pollution/litter from the natural environment.
- Organisation: Either organise your own park, street, or beach clean any time. Or liaise with Till the Coast is Clear for an organised clean up event in South Devon, or the team at Plastic Free North Devon for the North Devon coast.
- Season: Any time of year
REWILDING IN THE WOODS
- Activity: Various – e.g. tree planting, caretaking young trees, coppicing, removing invasive species, creating trails, etc.
- Organisation: Robin Bowman organises volunteer days at the Moor Barton Rewilding Project (near Moretonhampstead, on Dartmoor) where you can spend a day immersed in nature, doing activities that help restore maximim biodiversity on the land.
- Season: Any time of year
- Activity: Citizen Science Investigations to monitor water quality, habitats, and wildlife along rivers to provide evidence and enable issues to be more quickly addressed.
- Organisation: West Country Rivers Trust.
- Season: Any time of year.
CREATING WILD SPACES
- Activity: Creating spaces that will be useful habitat for wildlife – such as ‘untidy’ wild borders, ponds, wildflower meadows and verges, river buffers, hedges, tiny forests, bird houses, bat boxes, etc. – to connect up nature corridors.
- Organisation: Either organise your own team activity. Or if you are in the Teignbridge area, liaise with ACTion on Climate, Teignbridge to support their Wildlife Wardens scheme. There is also a brilliant new ‘Wild About Devon’ website launched by the Devon Local Nature Partnership to help communities co-ordinate nature-friendly actions by signposting them to relevant resources.
- Season: Especially spring, and any time of year.
REMOVING INVASIVE SPECIES
- Activity: Clearing invasive species to prevent them overwhelming native species and to enhance biodiversity.
- Organisation: Many including Woodland Trust, Devon Wildlife Trust, and individual landowners such as Juliette and Dominic at Ford Park, near Chagford who own 17 acres of peaceful woodland but find it difficult to keep on top of the invasive species on their own (contact: firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Season: Spring/early summer is best but can be flexible depending on species.
- Activity: Counting the numbers of particular species of bat, butterfly, bird, insect, water vole, tree, flower, etc.
- Organisation: Many options including Devon Wildlife Trust, Devon Biodiversity Records Centre, Woodland Trust, West Country Rivers Trust, RSPB, Butterfly Conservation, Slapton Ley Field Centre, etc.
- Season: Usually summer.
- Activity: Helping to rake up meadows/churchyards after they have been cut at the end of summer (to prevent too many nutrients from entering the soil which is not good for wild flowers).
- Organisation: Moor Meadows/More Meadows.
- Season: Late summer/early autumn.
NATIVE TREE NURSERY
- Activity: Collecting local seeds, nuts and acorns; and potting, planting, weeding, and caring for the saplings at native tree nurseries in South Brent or Dartington.
- Organisation: Moor Trees.
- Season: All year.
- Activity: Planting tree saplings to establish new native woodland or hedges.
- Organisation: Moor Trees or Woodland Trust.
- Season: November to March.
- Activity: Coppicing (cutting back/cutting down) trees to encourage new growth, and increase the opportunities for biodiverse woodland wildlife.
- Organisation: Woodland Trust.
- Season: Winter.
- Activity: Most useful would be regular commitment to help around the farm/with food boxes, or to provide specialist expertise that would be useful such as social media support.
- Organisation: The Apricot Centre, Dartington.
- Season: Any time, especially Spring to Autumn.
REWILDING AT EMBERCOMBE
- Activity: Help with a variety of land-based tasks on a 50 acre estate – such as gardening, weeding, picking orchard fruits, caring for herbal and medicinal gardens – all while reconnecting with nature in a beautiful valley, meeting new people and learning about rewilding initiatives.
- Organisation: Embercombe.
- Season: One Saturday a month.
Please check back to this page periodically as we intend to update as we grow relationships with new organisations and hear of more volunteering opportunities across the county.
If you’d like to give back to nature in a financial way too, please consider making a donation to the Devon Environment Foundation to support a wide range of grassroots projects that protect and restore nature in Devon.
We’re incredibly grateful for any contribution to help us support vital nature conservation and restoration in Devon.
If you’d like to give back on a montly basis, find out more about DEF’s Devon Nature Club here.