Wildlife conservation is an issue that needs attention every day.

Threats to wildlife are often large and complex, so much so individuals might feel powerless about them. However, every person’s small actions add up to a much larger solution – making the difference between a species surviving or going extinct.

You can begin making a difference by donating to your local conservation projects. Remember, donations are not always financial! You can donate your time. Here are examples of the local organisations and projects, which support wildlife protection and enhancement:

Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust

It offers a wide range of volunteering opportunities, suitable for anyone regardless of experience. If you cannot commit yourself regularly, you can take part in their Volunteer Work Days, which are held monthly at each nature reserve around Sheffield and Rotherham. Have a look at this website to find the next volunteer work day: https://www.wildsheffield.com/whats-on/

More information on how to get volunteer for the Wildlife Trust: https://www.wildsheffield.com/getinvolved/volunteer/

Hedgehog Friendly Campus (HFC)

Presence/absence survey conducted by Sheffield HFC using handmade hedgehog footprint tunnels

We have lost approximately half our hedgehogs from our countryside since the millennium alone and have lost a third from our towns and cities. The HFC campaign at the University of Sheffield aims to monitor local population sizes through surveying, raising awareness of the plight of UK hedgehogs and taking action to safeguard their future on the campus and beyond. It’s all about making our green spaces more hedgehog-friendly by litter-picking, creating wildlife corridors and hedgehog highways, educating people about how to make their gardens suitable for hedgehogs and much more! Check out the Facebook page to learn more and drop us a message if you would like to join: https://www.facebook.com/hogfriendlysheffield/

Sheffield University Conservation Volunteers (SUCV)

SUCV runs regular conservation tasks and outreach activities during term time based around ecology, the natural environment and improving green spaces of Sheffield. Sign up for their weekly newsletter to receive updates on their tasks: https://sucv.org/contact-us

South Yorkshire Bat Group

South Yorkshire Bat Group is a partner group of the Bat Conservation Trust, committed to advancing the protection and conservation of bats. By joining them, you’ll not only learn more about your local bats, but you’ll also be able to participate in bat surveying and monitoring, which are important sources of information on trends in bat populations and how they’re coping in a changing world. Such data is used to create appropriate conservation plans and action. Check out the website to find out more and to get involved: https://www.sybatgroup.org.uk/about

Don Catchment Rivers Trust (DCRT)

DCRT has been established to protect and restore the rivers in the River Don catchment area, which includes the following rivers: Don, Dearne, Rother, and Sheaf among others. It aims to ensure that the rivers have an adequate flow of water free of pollution and to enhance their biodiversity. You can volunteer to help with litter picking, debris removal, vegetation maintenance and invasive species management, and you can also improve your wildlife identification skills by participating in some of their workshops. Check out their events calendar here: https://dcrt.org.uk/events-calendar

Weronika at Riverlution Re-Connected: The Great Sheffield River Clean Up (March 2019)

River Stewardship Company

The Riverlution programme offers many opportunities for people to help protect Yorkshire waterways and their wildlife. They’re delivered in partnership with local councils and other organisations, including the Don Catchment Rivers Trust. Here is the volunteer events calendar: https://the-rsc.co.uk/riverlution/volunteer

Sorby Breck Ringing Group

This group is associated with the Sorby Natural History Society and Sheffield Bird Study Group (both also worth checking out!) and is part of the national network of ringing groups, contributing to the national database run by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). BTO focuses on British and Irish birds and organises a range of surveys each year, always keen to have new volunteers. Ringing Scheme is one of them, and data obtained from it are used for the management and conservation of birds. These data are also forwarded to the European Union for Bird Ringing (EURING), helping monitor population trends in Europe. Find more details about BTO’s projects here: https://www.bto.org/how-you-can-help/take-part-project. You can find and e-mail your local ringing trainer through this website too.

A redwing ringed during a Sorby Breck Ringing Group session

If you struggle to find time for any long, scheduled or regular activities, you can support conservation by taking part in citizen science projects. Whenever you spot a new wild organism, take a picture of it and submit it to iNaturalist. You don’t need to be an expert in recognising different species as the website’s community will help you identify your specimens. Information can be submitted via their apps: Seek or iNaturalist, or directly to their website: https://www.inaturalist.org/home. By recording and sharing your observations, you’ll create research quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature.

If you have any questions or would like to join some of these projects, but don’t know where to start or you’re nervous about participating on your own, you can drop me a message on Instagram (@dvame) or email me (wmpasieczna1@sheffield.ac.uk) and I’ll be more than happy to help!

This article was written by Weronika Pasieczna, a third year BSC Zoology student at the University of Sheffield. Follow Weronika on Twitter @biovegenic.

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