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Environment & Conservation Organisations In Dorset

NOTICE: Some of the information on this page may be outdated or have outdated information attached. Please contact the volunteer centre if you require more information.

Dorset is fortunate to have large areas of unspoilt countryside and coast including a World Heritage Site and numerous nationally and locally designated sites. These sites are owned and/or managed by a variety of organisations including county and district councils, national and local charities and local trusts. All rely on volunteers for all or part of their work. For potential volunteers there are many opportunities across the county doing a wide variety of practical and administrative tasks. Most of the organisations listed welcome regular volunteers and those who may only be available occasionally.

This list gives brief details of the area of work and types of activities available to volunteers. For more information visit the organisations’ own websites or contact their volunteer coordinator. Should you have any problems contacting the organisations please call Volunteer Centre Dorset and we will try to help. You can also find more details on www.do-it.org, the national database of volunteering opportunities.

Dorset Countryside Volunteers

Areas of work: Across Dorset

Type of work: All types of practical work including clearing, planting, hedging, walling, construction, etc.

Staff and Volunteering: DCV is all volunteer - New volunteers are trained and supervised by experienced members

Contact: Coordinator: Richard Meatyard, 01308 862958

Website: Dorset Countryside Volunteers

Established in 1972 to carry out practical conservation work across the county, DCV do not own any sites but work on land owned by other organisations such as National Trust, Dorset Wildlife Trust or local authorities. A programme of volunteering is planned quarterly and information given in the newsletter and website. Also... DCV has an active collaboration with Association Orchis, a French conservation group. Exchange visits are made occasionally.

Dorset Wildlife Trust

Areas of work: DWT sites are found across Dorset

Type of work: Volunteers are involved in practical conservation work, research and recording, publicity and education, and public outreach activities.

Staff and Volunteering: DWT has a professional staff supported by many volunteers, who work on many sites including the maritime reserve at Kimmeridge Bay. DWT welcomes student and group volunteers, and has an active programme for young volunteers. Volunteers are trained and supervised by DWT staff and experienced volunteers.

Contact: Steve Davis, Volunteer Programme Manager

Website: Dorset Wildlife Trust

Part of the national network of county naturalist trusts, DWT has more than 40 sites in its ownership or management including woodland, meadows, heathland and coast. Sites are managed for wildlife and landscape conservation, and for public benefit.

Natural England

Areas of work: Natural England manages about two thirds of England’s National Nature Reserves (NNRs), whilst the remaining third are managed by organisations approved by Natural England. NNRs in Dorset managed by Natural England include: Hambledon Hill (nr. Blandford Forum); Hartland Moor (nr. Wareham); Hog Cliff (nr. Maiden Newton); Holt Heath (nr. Ferndown); Morden Bog (nr. Wareham); Stoborough Heath (nr. Wareham) and Valley of Stones (nr. Dorchester).

Type of work: Environmental conservation work on the nature reserves, working as a registered bat warden or occasionally project based or office/administration work. Outreach Volunteers work with the Outreach Adviser for Dorset Heaths National Nature Reserve and other Reserve staff, involved with a range of work including helping with children’s workshops and activities, both in schools and on the reserves.

Staff and Volunteering: There is a small professional staff supported by volunteers. New opportunities are being created

Contact:Sally Proud or Hannah Worthington on 0300 0602513 or/ 07823 336946

Website: Natural England

Natural England is an independent public body whose purpose is to protect and improve England’s natural environment and encourage people to enjoy and get involved in their surroundings. We work with people such as farmers, planners, scientists, and the general public on a range of schemes and initiatives. The aim is to create a better natural environment that covers all urban, country and coastal landscapes, along with the animals, plants and other organisms that live there.

The National Trust

Areas of work: West Dorset (sites around Charmouth and Golden Cap) Purbeck (Corfe Castle, coast and countryside around Studland and Purbeck) East Dorset (Kingston Lacy estate)

Type of work: practical conservation work, education and interpretation, research and recording, stewarding

Staff and Volunteering: The Trust has a large staff of managers and specialists supported by many regular and occasional volunteers. New volunteers roles often created.

Contact: West Dorset – Visitor Services Manager, 01297 489481 - Purbeck – Rachel Rodman, Volunteer Officer, Purbeck, 01929 452306

Website: The National Trust

A national organisation which owns a number of important properties in Dorset including Hardy’s Cottage, Max Gate, Cloud’s Hill, Corfe Castle, Kingston Lacy and large areas of countryside and coast.

Dorset Countryside Ranger Service

Areas of work: Across the country

Type of work: practical conservation work of all kinds, landscape construction, education and interpretation, surveys and recording.

Staff and Volunteering:DCC has a team of professional managers, rangers and Rights of Way staff + increasing number of regular and occasional volunteers. Volunteers are trained and supervised by DCC professional staff.

Contact: Graham Stanley, Volunteer Ranger Coordinator, 01258 456970

Website: Dorset Countryside Ranger Service

Dorset County Council own many countryside sites of landscape and wildlife value open to the public for recreation. The county has over 3,000 miles of public footpaths and bridleways, and several marked trails. DCC is committed to the maintenance and sustainable use of the countryside. There are many opportunities for volunteers to work alongside the professional staff.

Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Areas of work: see website for details of the AONB

Type of work: Surveying and recording, photography and archiving, copywriting, oral history project

Staff and Volunteering: There is a small professional staff based in Dorchester. More volunteers are being recruited for a variety of tasks.

Contact: Katharine Wright, 01305 228239

Website: Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The Dorset AONB covers more than 40% of the county including coast and inland countryside. The land is owned by numerous private and public owners who collaborate with the AONB team to conserve and enhance the landscape and wildlife value of the area. Public access and enjoyment of the area is supported. The AONB includes are large number of important archaeological sites.

The Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site

Areas of work: The Jurassic Coast extends for 95 miles from Exmouth in East Devon to Swanage in Dorset

Type of work: Volunteer roles in interpretation and education, and practical work are being developed

Staff and Volunteering: Jurassic Coast has a team of professional managers and specialists. New opportunities for volunteers are being created. Volunteers are trained and supervised by members of staff.

Contact: Ben Wyer 01305 228575, or/ 07900 137339

Website: The Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site

The Jurassic Coast of East Devon and Dorset is an area of world landscape value recognised by UNESCO. It includes many designated sites of geological and wildlife interest. The Jurassic Coast team works with land owners, farmers, local authorities, local people and visitors to conserve the values of the area, deal with potential conflicts in land use and enhance visitor/user experience.

Durlston Country Park National Nature Reserve

Type of work: Volunteers are involved in practical conservation work, staffing the visitor centre, wildlife survey work, interpretation and education.

Staff and Volunteering: The park has a small professional staff along with a regular team of volunteers. Volunteers are trained and supervised by the professional staff and experienced volunteers.

Contact: Coordinator: Ali Tuckey (Countryside Ranger) 01929 424443

Website: Durlston Country Park National Nature Reserve

Durlston Country Park is located on a stretch of coast around Durlston Head, near Swanage. The park includes 280 acres of sea cliffs, areas of grassland and scrub of great conservation value. It is managed by Dorset County Council countryside service to combine habitat conservation with improving public access and understanding. There is a popular visitor centre in the park. The park has received a substantial grant for the restoration of facilities which will further improve visitor services.

Moors Valley Country Park

Areas of work: Moors Valley is located in east Dorset

Type of work: Leading walks and cycling, interpretation and visitor management. New opportunities for practical conservation work are being developed

Staff and Volunteering: The park is managed by a professional team, new roles for volunteers are being developed. Volunteers are trained and supervised by park staff.

Contact: Jackie O’Connor, Senior Ranger 01425 480811

Website: Moors Valley Country Park

Moors Valley is an area of over 1,000 acres of woodland and heathland owned and jointly managed by East Dorset District Council and Forestry Commission for recreation and conservation. The park provides facilities for walking, cycling, fishing, etc. There is a children’s playground and catering facilities.

Royal Society For Protection of Birds

Areas of work: Reserves at Arne near Wareham and Radipole in Weymouth

Type of work: Practical conservation work, survey and recording work, education and interpretation, stewarding and visitor services.

Staff and Volunteering: RSPB has a small staff supported by many volunteers. Volunteers receive training and supervision from staff and experienced volunteers.

Contact: Rob Farrington, Visitor Experience Manager, 01305 778313

Website: Royal Society For Protection of Birds

RSPB is a national organisation which owns/manages two major sites in Dorset: the Arne reserve near Wareham and Radipole in Weymouth.

Butterfly Conservation

Type of work: Practical conservation work, wildlife surveys and recording, running public open days

Staff and Volunteering: Most of the work is done by volunteers. New volunteers are supported by the volunteer coordinator and experienced volunteers

Contact: Nigel Spring, Reserves Manager 07981 776767

Website: Butterfly Conservation

The Dorset branch of Butterfly Conservation manages four reserves; Alners Gorse near Hazelbury Bryan, Lankham Bottom near Cattistock, Broadcroft Quarry and Perryfields Reserve on Portland. The reserves are managed to provide habit for butterflies, some of which are nationally rare. Almost all work on the reserves is done by volunteers.

Chesil Bank & The Fleet Nature Reserve

Type of work: Practical conservation work, staffing the visitor centre, bird counts and surveys, interpretation and visitor services.

Staff and Volunteering: The reserve manager is supported by a team of volunteers. Volunteers are supported by the reserve warden and experienced volunteers.

Contact: Don Moxom, Reserve Warden, Reserve Office, Portland Beach Road, Portland, DT4 9XE, 01305 760579

Website: Chesil Bank & The Fleet Nature Reserve

This nature reserve covers the world famous Chesil Bank and The Fleet lagoon which are renown for their wildlife, especially migratory birds. The purpose of the reserve is to protect and maintain these unique resources whilst supporting traditional commercial activities, visitor services and recreation.

Trees For Dorset

Areas of work: Across the county

Type of work: Campaigning and lobbying for protection of trees and woodlands, education on the benefits of trees, practical tasks on tree planting and maintenance.

Staff and Volunteering: 1 Project Officer, otherwise all volunteer. New volunteers are supported and trained by experienced volunteers.

Contact: Rachel Palmer, 14 Cologne Road, Bovington, Wareham, BH20 6NR

Website: Trees For Dorset

(Formerly know as Men of the Trees, Dorset Branch) Trees for Dorset has three main aims: 1/ planting and caring for trees and encouraging the planting and caring for trees in the UK, 2/ fostering an appreciation of trees and their amenity and ecological value, and 3/ advancing education for the public benefit in trees and their habitat.

Monkton WYLD Court

Areas of work: Situated on the Dorset-Devon border near Lyme Regis

Type of work: Monkton Wyld has a large walled garden which is cultivated on organic principles, areas of garden, woodland and meadow. The centre runs courses on a variety of topics linked to sustainable living.

Staff and Volunteering: There is a small paid staff supported by volunteers. There are opportunities for longer term residential volunteers as well as day visitors.

Contact: The Manager, Monkton Wyld Court, Charmouth, Bridport, DT6 6DQ, Tel: 01297 560342

Website: Monkton WYLD Court

Monkton Wyld occupies a former rectory in a hamlet near Lyme Regis on the Dorset-Devon border and is a centre dedicated to hosting educational courses, conferences and gatherings for families and groups.

The Magdalen Project

Type of work: Practical work in the garden, grounds and farm, DIY and catering in the centre, assisting with courses and workshops. There are opportunities for day and residential volunteers.

Staff and Volunteering: There is a small professional staff supported by volunteers.

Contact: Rebecca King, Centre Manager, 01460 30144

Website: www.Magdalenfarm.org.uk

The Magdalen Project is an environmental education centre located on a 132 acre organic farm in beautiful countryside on the Somerset/Dorset border near Chard. Here a diverse range of managed and natural habitats provide the basis for a wide range of courses, workshops and eco-adventures, encouraging both children and adults to learn new skills, enjoy new experiences and, we hope, develop a deeper understanding of the countryside and a more sustainable approach to life. We offer school visits, care farming and corporate training to adult day courses and civil marriage ceremonies.

Future Roots

Type of work: We are always interested in hearing from volunteers as there are many roles we can offer from general maintenance to assisting with activities.

Staff and Volunteering: The project has a small professional staff supported by a team of volunteers

Contact: Naomi Molyneux

Website: Future Roots

Future Roots is a social enterprise providing activities that bring people and the countryside together. We are based at Rylands Farm near Sherborne and provide opportunities on and off site for children, young people and families to experience farming, countryside and other activities.

Holton Lee

Areas of work: Based on a 350 acre estate on the side of Poole Harbour

Type of work: Horticultural therapy for disabled adults. Volunteers are involved in work in the gardens and practical conservation of our SSSI heathland site as well as working with our service users.

Staff and Volunteering: We have a small staff supported by a team of volunteers. Volunteers are encouraged to learn gardening/conservation skills or working with our service users.

Contact: Emma Browning, Volunteering Coordinator, East Holton, Holton, Poole BH16 6JN, Tel: 01202 625562

Website: Holton Lee

Holton Lee provides opportunities for disabled people to flourish through access to the arts, the environment and wellbeing initiatives. We have gardens, grounds and an area of heathland.

DA21 (Dorset Agenda 21)

Type of work: Campaigning, awareness raising, running public events and outreach programme, publications and publicity, attending meetings.

Staff and Volunteering: The project has a small professional staff plus a large number of volunteers and supporters. DA21 offers various training opportunities in sustainability issues.

Contact: Paul McIntosh or Susan Anders , DA21, PO Box 5789, Dorchester, DT2 8ZR, 01305 213721

Website: DA21 (Dorset Agenda 21)

The aim of DA21 is to promote sustainable development and the prudent use of natural resources, and to advance education and research about sustainable development and the protection of the environment. We do this by raising public awareness and understanding of sustainability, through support or initiate projects which demonstrate sustainability, and by influencing decision makers to take sustainability into account throughout their decision making.

Transition Towns Dorset

Areas of work: There are Transition Town schemes in Dorchester, Blandford, Bridport, Lyme Regis Shaftesbury, Sherborne, Sturminster, Thorncombe, Weymouth and Wimborne

Type of work: Practical tasks for individuals and with work parties, vegetable production and livestock care, publicity, administration, developing and co-ordinating projects, talks, events, website and newsletter support, fundraising, information sharing, presentations and creative projects

Staff and Volunteering: Projects receive secretarial support from DA21, otherwise all tasks are done by volunteers. New volunteers are supported by experienced volunteers.

Contact: For details of your local scheme contact Paul MacIntosh of DA21 at 1a Acland Road, Dorchester, DT1 1EF, 01305 213721

Website: Transition Towns Dorset

The Transition Town movement aims to help towns and their surrounding villages to work together in tackling the biggest challenges of our times: climate change and peak oil. This means finding ways of helping our communities become more resilient to a changing environment and less dependent on ever declining fossil fuels.

In Dorchester, we are doing this through projects around local food, transport and energy. Activities include development of a community farm, a community orchard, a local food co-operative, a Gardenshare Scheme, community renewable energy projects, waste and sustainable transport projects.

Transition Town Dorchester leases land for the community to use for food production at two sites in Dorchester. These are the Parkway Farm Community Garden at Poundbury (behind Weymouth College Construction Centre) and the Community Orchard adjacent the railway bridge at Monmouth Road.

Eucan Volunteering

Areas of work: Dorset, See http://www.eucan.org.uk/page/uk_projects

Type of work: Conservation work.

Staff and Volunteering: Training available http://www.eucan.org.uk/page/training.

Contact: If interested complete a Expression of Interest Form

Website: Eucan Volunteering

EuCAN is a Community Interest Company (CIC) working in the UK and other countries of Europe to involve more people and communities in the conservation management of their local environment, by providing training and practical experience for young graduates, potential volunteers and therapeutic groups, in nature conservation and in sustainable land management and food production enterprises.


Volunteer Centre Dorset are thankful for the support from:

Dorset County Council
Dorset Community Foundation
Volunteering Fund