Over 10 years of experience

Wildlife Trust Ecology Groups are teams of voluntary wildlife 'monitors' engaged in monitoring Wildlife Trust nature reserves.

The challenge is to fine-tune habitat management techniques, through monitoring, combining the skills of natural history with existing ecological knowledge and a scientific approach.

Launched in 2001, this section of the reserves department helps to detect subtle changes taking place on and around our nature reserves and gather important evidence to support the decisions we make when managing them. The monitoring projects also help us detect, and respond to, other factors influencing our reserves including climate change. Many of the monitoring projects are ongoing and designed to feed into our management plans long into the future.

Details about Ecology Groups

  • The structure and format followed is part of a sustainable approach to coordinating over 350 volunteers across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire
  • Ecology Groups 'monitors' are encouraged to volunteer as part of a team (Ecology Group) on nearby reserves, making it more environmentally sustainable for them to take part.
  • Volunteers are recuited from local communities and are trained locally.
  • Volunteers can take part in training opportunities, which target the development of specific skills required for particular monitoring projects.
  • There is no subscription fee, instead volunteers give their time, a minimum of 8 days a year, every year, to actively contribute to the successful completion of monitoring projects.
  • The main activity of Ecology Group members is to carry out monitoring project fieldwork. This involves site visits to gather the biological data.
  • Fieldwork follows site-specific protocols produced and updated by the Ecology Groups officer. The Ecology Groups officer maintains the annual monitoring programme and coordinates each group with the help of the voluntary activity leaders.
  • The monitoring projects gather a wide range of data on groups of wildlife with a close association with the habitat in question, identifying them to species level.
  • Ecology Group volunteers also collate and input data gathered into electronic format, feeding it back to the Ecology Groups officer who acts is the point of contact between the volunteers and the rest of the reserves department and anyone outside of the organisation.