Mondays have a nasty habit of creeping up on us, but it is also that time of week where I get to share yet another way to get involved in conservation! First off, I am going to throw this quote/ proverb at you:
“Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand.” (Confucius circa 450 BC).
Can you relate at all? When I first read this, it certainly rang true to me and I strongly believe that this really applies to nature and conservation. In order for us to preserve and protect biodiversity, we need to get out there, get involved and experience it. But how?
There are many surveys run by organisations looking to recruit volunteers to help them gather data on the presence and abundance of a particular species of interest in a given area. Many of these surveys are open to anyone who is willing to get stuck in, so do not let your experience hold you back. Instead, you should use it as a baseline, which will help you reflect upon what you have gained from the experience. Better yet, a lot of organisations run free training sessions to help give you the confidence to carry out these surveys in your own time!
A great example of this is the Harvest Mouse Survey run by the Mammal Society as part of their Mammal Watch South East project. After sending off a quick email I was signed up as a voluntary surveyor and given the option of attending a number of training sessions.
The aim of the survey is to determine the current range of the harvest mouse across the south east of England. However, the minute size and elusiveness of this rodent makes it extremely difficult to spot in the wild. Thus, our task was to search for the most distinctive signs of harvest mice, their nests.
Let us go back to the quote at the beginning and think more about how it links to conservation in this case. As an individual you could quite easily read up about the harvest mouse or attend a brief talk to find out more about its status. You may have someone show you an image or diagram of a nest as a guideline to help you identify in the field. However, being out there in a group with other keen individuals with differing levels of knowledge was invaluable. There was a high level of support within the group, each member providing pointers of where to look and sharing what they had found. This not only provides great support for beginners, but also provides an opportunity to network with likeminded people. Finding your own nest also creates a great memory with a lasting message. You volunteered that day to actively help study the range of this animal in your area. It is likely you will share your experience with others, which could motivate them to do the same, further helping nature.
Furthermore, many surveys are open to all ages and abilities so why not involve your family or friends? You can also take the experience beyond its initial aim, as you never know what else you may find in the field!