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Highland Reserve Management Project
Start date: May 4, 2015, End date: Nov 3, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The Scottish Wildlife Trust owns or manages over 120 nature reserves in Scotland. These reserves are managed by a network of 7 regionally based Reserve Project Officers who, in conjunction with groups of locally based volunteers undertake all practical conservation work on these sites, keep them well managed and great places for wildlife. Our project will integrate 2 volunteers for 12 months with a varied range of our operations in the North of Scotland which will involve both our staff and also project staff. We will offer volunteers the chance to undertake a range of practical tasks as part of a small team such as repairing fences, building footpaths, removing non native invasive species and planting trees which will help protect and enhance our nature reserves, many of which are homes to protected species. We offer a constant variety of tasks and sites on which to work and volunteers will get a chance to see a great deal of the countryside in their area and a variety of habitats over the course of 4 seasons. We offer a friendly and relaxed working environment, ideal for the learning and consolidation of new skills. We will keep all volunteers safe during their time with us and encourage them to take responsibility, such as delivering health and safety talks or carrying out visual reserve safety inspections. A key feature of this project is the opportunity for our EVS volunteers to attend a number of residential tasks on our more remote and spectacular reserves. In their EVS year we will offer approximately 10 trips lasting 3 to 4 nights each. Volunteers will help in the planning and organisation of these trips and the overall experience will provide numerous opportunities to learn and enjoy the best scenery and in Scotland. Indeed such is the nature of the environment that the volunteers will have some spectacular and memorable wildlife experiences. These will linger in the mind long after the placements have finished. Volunteers will also work with the Regional Reserves Manager and undertake various office based tasks. This will be a flexible part of the placement and will be fitted in according to need and according to weather! We will also allocate each volunteer a personal project which they will work on over the course of their year. This could include designing reserve leaflets, undertaking species monitoring on reserves or undertaking a project on behalf of our landscape wide living landscape project at Coigach. Through these learning opportunities, we are aiming to deliver the project's main objectives: to boost skills and employability and to deliver real conservation results on our nature reserves. We have selected 2 EVS candidates who are looking to get work in the environmental sector and whom we felt would be the best fit for our programme. Much of their learning will be informal and our Reserve Project Officer will be able to teach them a great deal about our nature reserves, species of interest and the management thereof in the North of Scotland. Both our EVS volunteers come from Spain and we have selected one male & one female. We see a number of tangible benefits to this project: the volunteers will gain a huge amount of knowledge about the conservation world, gain new skills and be much more employable whilst the Scottish Wildlife Trust will benefit from practical work carried out on its Northern reserves and gain from the results of a year long project which the volunteer will have worked on. Our EVS volunteers will be high profile whilst they are with us and we will advertise the work of our EVS project through our members' magazine, a blog on our website and we will encourage our volunteers to give an illustrated talk to our local members about their EVS experience. Based on the impact of previous EVS volunteers, there is more awareness of and interest in EVS volunteers within the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Our EVS volunteers will also be well travelled and as they visit other parts of Scotland as part of their residential trips they will meet other Scottish Wildlife Trust staff, staff from other conservation organisations and members of local communities. The world of conservation in Scotland is small and word about the programme will spread, possibly leading to EVS applications from other related organisations. Based on our previous experience one or more EVS volunteers may decide to make Scotland their new home and to seek employment and a long term future here. Having brought a young volunteer from Europe, provided a fulfilling and enjoyable experience in Scotland, to have them stay and keep their new skills and enthusiasm locally, for the benefit of conservation would be the ultimate long term benefit and a lasting indication of a successful project.

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