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Two of our Volunteer Rangers - having fun, undertaking practical conservation tasks!

More than 2000 volunteer hours have already been dedicated to the National Park this year

This #VolunteersWeek Volunteer Advisor Padraig O’Grady talks about how valuable volunteers are to the National Park.

People volunteer for many reasons, from giving back to their local area and developing new skills, to meeting new people and enjoying the physical and mental health benefits volunteering can bring. But, regardless of why people volunteer, the benefits are not just felt by the person, but also by the organisation they are supporting, and we are extremely lucky to be supported by a wonderful community of volunteers.

In 2023/24 our volunteers contributed more than 8,200 hours across almost 500 different opportunities, supporting dozens of different projects and initiatives. One of the major programs supported by National Park Volunteers was the Wild Strathfillan Nature Restoration Project, an ambitious landscape scale project focused on restoring degraded and fragmented habitats in the north of the National Park. Our volunteers played a key role in the initial setup and ongoing operation of the project’s specialist tree nursery in Glen Falloch, having dedicated more than 750 hours of time to it since October 2023, collecting and planting more than 36,000 seeds by hand. The first juvenile trees will be ready for transplanting into external holding areas this year, ahead of schedule. This would not have been possible without the dedication of our volunteers.

Volunteers collecting seeds for the Wild Strathfillan Restoration project.

While the Covid-19 pandemic had a huge and lingering impact on volunteering globally, we have begun to see strong recovery, with both the number of volunteers and number of volunteer hours beginning to increase. 47 new volunteers joined our program in December 2023, and they have since dedicated more than 2000 hours to volunteering, with 5 of them clocking up more than 100 hours each!  This level of commitment means we are on track to exceed 10,000 hours for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic.

We have also begun to see an increase in the number of young people volunteering, with many driven by a desire to help tackle the climate and nature crises, and with demand for green jobs growing across Scotland, it’s a great way to develop skills for future green careers.

Earlier this year we adopted our new National Park Partnership Plan. This 5-year plan outlines the work that needs to be done to achieve our vision of a National Park that is thriving, nature positive and carbon negative. It won’t be easy, and we can’t do it alone, but with the help of our volunteers, we’re feeling good about the future!

Find out more about our volunteer programme.


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