Volunteering with LCV

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What is "conservation" work?

The work we do focuses on maintaining or improving wildlife habitats.

Maintaining habitats

We need to maintain habitats because most open land in Scotland would become forest if it were left untouched, all other things being equal. This process, where land is colonised over time by larger and longer-lived species of plants is known as succession.

In the past, the diversity of the Scottish landscape was maintained as a by-product of people's farming practices and daily lives, but now we have to do the work deliberately.

Each of our work sites has a management plan, drawn up by experts, that determines which habitats must be maintained at that site because they are locally or nationally rare. We work to halt the succession cycle at that point. For example, at Aberlady Bay we are working to keep a pond as a pond, rather than letting it silt up: this provides a habitat for a rare bladderwort. At Red Moss of Balerno we have an annual task to remove birch trees that will dry out the Moss: this maintains the specialised plants and animals on one of the few raised bogs left in Scotland.

Improving habitats

We need to improve habitats to repair damage that people have done over the years or to speed up the succession process. If one of our clients acquires a reserve on farmland, and the management plan for the reserve recommends that it should be returned to forest, the client could simply fence it off and wait 200 years. However, they will see results faster if they plant the land with a suitable mixture of native tree species. We are helping with this at Carrifran in the Borders.

We can also improve sites by building footpaths through them. Improving public access is vital for increasing understanding and support for wildlife, but has a further advantage that carefully designed footpaths can route visitors away from sensitive areas of a reserve, leaving the wildlife in peace. We do work like this at Hadfast, a reserve that is very important for its bird life.

Why do conservation work?

Every member of LCV has their own reasons. Here are some:

A typical task

We usually have about 10 volunteers on each task, and there is a wide range of ages and experience.

Lunch on Ben Lawers

Lunch on Ben Lawers

Each task has a Leader, who is an experienced volunteer who liaises with the client and directs the work to make sure we are doing what they want. The most important role of the Leader, however, is to make sure that all the volunteers have a safe and enjoyable time.

Each task starts with a safety talk, to explain the use of the tools and to identify any special hazards associated with the task or the work site.

Is it safe?

Safety is our priority. The Task Leader will make sure that you know how to use all the tools safely, and will warn you about any special hazards.

Can anyone volunteer with LCV?

We welcome anyone who can make a positive contribution to our work. The most important thing is that you are happy to work all day outdoors in any weather.

You must make your own booking onto a task with us. You can't ask someone else to call us and make a booking for you: you've got to do it yourself.

Children and young people

If you are under 18 and are interested in being a conservation volunteer then there are several groups who offer excellent opportunities including:

Local councils, ranger services, natures reserves and similar sites also frequently offer opportunities for Under 18s and their families to visit sites and get involved. These may be advertised locally on posters on the site or online.

If none of these options suit you and you are aged 16 or 17 and you would like to come out with us on one of our day tasks then you can book in the normal way, but please mention that you are under 18 when you book. LCV cannot take you on a residential task until you are 18 and have been on at least one day task.

People with additional support needs

If you have any additional support needs, then we ask you to bring someone with you to help with anything that you might find difficult. In particular it is important that you can understand and remember the safety talk that we give at the beginning of each task.

Groups

We are a small organisation and we aren't able to organise additional tasks especially for particular groups. We also can't handle "group bookings". Each person who wants to come out with us must book individually. If we have too many new volunteers on any one task it can get hard for us to keep everyone safe and happy, so if you're coming as a group please try to spread yourselves out over several tasks so that there aren't more than two or three new people from your group on each one. For more information, including suggestions about organisations who are able to run group events, please contact Heili Nellis our publicity officer.

More information

Please email enquiries@lcv.org.uk if you would like to find out more about a particular task and whether it would be suitable for you.

Do I need any experience?

None whatsoever!

Just bring your enthusiasm, some old clothes and your lunch. We will provide everything else you need. We will train you in the skills you need to do a good job.

Look at our Task Programme to see which task you would like to start with.