Love at first sight for local volunteers

date02 July 2014

This release has been issued on behalf of Scotland’s Environment Web Partnership.

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A new matchmaking service for volunteers looking for opportunities to get involved in environmental projects with local voluntary groups has been launched today (2 July 2014).

The new Project Finder service is available through the recently re-launched Scotland’s Environment website and includes an easy to use search feature to help people identify projects of interest.

A UK first for environmental projects, local voluntary groups can register their profile and volunteering opportunities free of charge.  Already a number of organisations have posted details of projects taking place all over Scotland including surveys of birds, bats, hedgehogs, glow-worms, butterflies and Scottish Dragons, a reptile and amphibian conservation project.

There are also projects covering subjects as diverse as juniper flowers, invasion by non-native species, the quality of our coasts and coastal heritage at risk.

Paul Griffiths, Principal Scientist in SEPA and Citizen Science lead for Scotland’s Environment Web says:

“We’d like to think Project Finder is the equivalent of speed dating for volunteers as it can help identify projects that appeal to them very quickly as well as support voluntary groups in promoting their opportunities as widely as possible.

“We want to see this useful resource expand with lots of new environmental volunteering opportunities that users can search and get involved in, as more voluntary organisations become aware of this free service and create new project profiles.

“There are wide ranging benefits of getting more people, of all ages, involved in recording environmental observations.  As scientists, we get more data to help improve our understanding of environmental changes.  Taking part in citizen science projects not only improves volunteers’ understanding of the environment, but changes their attitudes towards it and motivates them to take more action to protect it. This has been a key finding of research that The Conservation Volunteers has carried out for Scotland’s Environment Web.”

Buglife is just one of the organisations who have added projects to this new service, and Craig Macadam, Buglife’s Scotland Director has praised the Project Finder:

“This is a fantastic idea and like all good ideas it is very simple. In effect it creates an online directory of organisations which will make it much easier to promote our opportunities to volunteers. I’ll definitely be highlighting this service to other local groups.”

Project Finder includes details of opportunities to volunteer with the many Citizen Science and Citizen Action projects already active in Scotland.

Citizen Science projects are designed to improve understanding of the environment through local monitoring. This includes recording local sightings of animals and plants, observing weather patterns or helping check the quality of air, land and water.

Citizen Action projects involve improving the local environment through initiatives such as beach litter collections, making gardens more wildlife friendly or promoting safe walking and cycling routes to school or work.

Scotland’s Environment website also provides an easy to use interactive toolkit with advice and help for anyone who wants to set up their own Citizen Science and Citizen Action projects.

Scotland’s Environment website was re-launched in early June to coincide with publication of Scotland’s State of Environment Report 2014. The website will feature updates from Citizen Science and Citizen Action projects as part of continuing to provide the most up to date environmental information available.

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Notes to editor

The Project Finder and other useful Citizen Science resources can be found at www.environment.scotland.gov.uk/get-involved/

The Conservation Volunteers research report about the Impact of Citizen Science Activities on Participant Behaviour and Attitudes is also available on the website

Scotland’s Environment Web SEPA manages the Scotland's Environment Web project on behalf of a partnership of key environmental organisations in Scotland.

SEPA has received funding support from the European Commission LIFE+ funding programme to support the delivery of a range of partnership initiatives that will provide a trusted gateway to data and information about the environment, and involve Scotland's Citizens in discussion, monitoring and action to protect and improve the environment.

European Commission LIFE+ funding programme The LIFE programme is the European Union's funding instrument for the environment, which contributes to the implementation, updating and development of EU environmental policy and legislation.

Further information about the Scotland's Environment Web LIFE funded project.