NatureSpy Volunteering.

Since beginning my degree in 2018, I have tried to undertake some sort of volunteering every year to give me some practical experience alongside the academic knowledge. This is with the hope that, by the time I finish my degree, I will be in a position to get a job within the environmental/conservation sector.

As we all know, 2020 hasn’t gone to plan for most of us and we have spent a large portion of the year in lockdown due to COVID19. This has meant that in order to get my volunteering in for the year, I needed to get creative!! Luckily, I came across a call for volunteers to help go through camera trap footage and document the various species captured here in the UK. I signed up to help NatureSpy with their project, and that is what I have spent lockdown completing. Not only has it helped keep me busy, but it is another type of volunteering and experience that should help me on the path towards my new career.

Volunteering is a great way to expand our knowledge and experience, whilst also helping worthwhile organisations with their current projects.

This post was originally written by Rebecca Hansell for Small World, Big Cause in July 2020, but has been refreshed for The Curious Environmentalist in October 2021.

NatureSpy Volunteering

So, let me tell you about NatureSpy and the work that they do.

They are a social enterprise which works to research and protect wildlife and natural habitats, in addition to educating and involving people and communities. You can read more about their aims and objectives by visiting their website.

The project that I was working on, with reviewing the camera trap footage, was their Yorkshire Pine Marten Support Programme. Over the last few months I have looked at approximately 1,300 video clips and images and seen a variety of species in their natural habitats. This project is exciting because the pine martens are famously illusive. After 4 years of looking, in August 2017 they captured a single male pine marten on the North Yorkshire Moors. This was the first evidence of the species living in the area for over 35 years. Which is incredible!!!

It has been a real joy to be a small part of this project and has really helped me to feel connected to nature whilst being stuck at home in our 1 bedroom flat! I think that the lockdown has made many of us to consider our relationship with nature and perhaps how we often take it for granted. I know that I personally was guilty of not getting enough fresh air on a daily basis. I work from home and, as I work for myself, it is easy to get bogged down and focus on the to-do list rather than getting out and getting some air! However, being at home has made me realise the importance of going on regular walks – I have even taken up running! Having these links to the world around me has really helped me to stay sane during lockdown and having a volunteering project to work on too has helped me to feel connected to the bigger picture.

The world is wide and there are so many ways we can make a difference, whether we are housebound or not. As the current lockdown eases, it will be a vital time to address our relationship with the natural world. How we take it for granted, how it can help us to decrease or increase the risk of another pandemic, how it affects our mental wellbeing and how we can benefit in untold ways from preserving the natural world.

What has the lockdown taught you?

What lessons are you taking into the ‘new normal’?

How can you volunteer or use your time to benefit nature or conservation topics?

Take some time before we head back into the old routines about how you can change your ways and what your priorities really are.

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