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Improving Scottish Wildlife Trust Reserves
Start date: Oct 5, 2015, End date: Feb 4, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The Scottish Wildlife Trust owns or manages over 120 nature reserves in Scotland. Our network of regionally based Reserve Project Officers, in conjunction with locally based volunteers undertake all practical conservation work on these sites, keeping them well managed and great places for wildlife. We have a number of reserve improvements planned and wish to combine our expertise in providing employability skills (work experience, knowledge and training) with our desire to work with more quality EVS volunteers who could help us deliver these improvements. We feel this would be a perfect opportunity to meet the needs of both Scottish Wildlife Trust and the volunteer. The objectives of our new project are to work with EVS volunteers in 2 areas (North East & South West Scotland) and to focus on improving a number of reserves for the medium to long term. We aim to make volunteers much more employable by providing 12 month placements with varied work experience and training and we aim to offer a quality, enjoyable experience for volunteers. We have selected 7 quality, motivated EVS volunteers (4 male & 3 female) from 5 countries, mostly from Southern Europe, all of whom are prepared to dedicate 12 months abroad in order to learn and find work, ideally in conservation. We will place 5 volunteers with our North East project and 2 with our South West project. Our activities will be: Planned improvement projects involve peatland restoration, grassland management, woodland planting/regeneration and woodland improvement on 7 of our nature reserves. These projects would allow us to deliver real conservation results on our nature reserves. For example, particular attention is currently placed on the carbon benefits of restoring peat bogs by removing scrub and installing plastic dams. By keeping the water levels high peat bogs continue to absorb carbon dioxide. We believe that our EVS volunteers can help us achieve these aims and therefore gain tremendous job satisfaction. Smaller scale reserve maintenance tasks, designed to ensure our reserves are maintained in good species health and kept safe for visitors would take place on our remaining 23 reserves; such tasks would be keeping footpaths clear, ensuring gates, stiles, boundaries and footpaths stiles are operational and safe. Each volunteer will be allocated a personal project on which they will work during their year. We have a number of potential projects to offer which would add a major extra dimension to the volunteers' learning. Volunteers will also be encouraged to take other opportunities on offer, such as residential trips on our Highland reserves. This will help provide a much broader experience. We will make all necessary pre-placement arrangements including making a formal agreement with sending organisations and arranging accommodation for volunteers. Our qualified and experienced staff and mentors will provide a well supported, friendly and relaxed working environment, ideal for the learning and consolidation of new skills. We will provide all instruction, supervision, tools, equipment and transport to our work sites. We will give all volunteers an induction and keep our volunteers safe throughout the placement. All our activities are insured. We will offer time for review of progress, reflection on Youthpass activities and feedback on work delivered. There are a number of tangible benefits to this project: by recruiting volunteers for 12 months they have the time to gain a huge amount of knowledge about the conservation world over the 4 seasons, receive training, gain new skills and be much more employable whilst the Scottish Wildlife Trust can use well motivated quality volunteers to improve its network of reserves. The continuity provided by having this number of long term volunteers will allow us to achieve results not normally possible with our usual occasional volunteers. Our EVS volunteers will be high profile and we would advertise their work through our members' magazine, our website, through the wider Wildlife Trust’s network and other local networks. Our group of volunteers is particularly well motivated, hungry for the chance to improve their prospects and of sufficient quality that they can take full advantage of the learning opportunities we can provide. We are confident that their quality combined with our collective conservation and project management experience will produce a successful project for all and enable us to action our reserve improvement projects.

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