Working with volunteers

Training event at Glencoe Visitor Centre by Chris Wernham
BTO volunteer surveyors and volunteer Regional Representatives, who coordinate survey work locally, are instrumental in high quality biodiversity
monitoring in Scotland but Scotland’s generally low and clustered human population, remoteness and demanding terrain present particular challenges when seeking and retaining volunteers to get involved in survey and long-term monitoring work. Developing the best ways to attract and offer support to more volunteers is an important part of BTO Scotland’s role, and finding more volunteers to help with recording in the remoter uplands and along rivers are current priorities.

Since 2002, a number of BTO Scotland projects have explored how to involve more volunteers in survey work, and the design of field work that is attractive to those volunteers. These have included involving hillwalkers in recording Ptarmigan and other upland birds, trial volunteer surveys of Short-eared Owls and other open-country species, and monitoring urban biodiversity.

Between 2007 and 2010, we also ran a major partnership project with the Scottish ornithologists’ Club, Building Bird Monitoring in Scotland (or BBMS), aimed at attracting, training and supporting bird recording volunteers across Scotland, with bespoke activities for experienced birdwatchers, beginners, the land-owning and managing community (estate owners and managers etc), and hillwalkers. We are keen to share our experiences and work collaboratively to help to develop and promote best practice in volunteer support, and a full evaluation of the success of the BBMS project and lessons learned is available here).

Staff contacts: Chris Wernham & ben.darvill [at] bto.org (Ben Darvill).