Controlling Invasive Species in New Zealand

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Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

by Robert Barossi

I’ve often mentioned that volunteers are hard at work in every corner of the globe. There is nowhere on the planet where volunteers aren’t involved in some kind of important and impactful work. This story out of New Zealand shows how volunteers there are working hard to remove or at least control an invasive species, wilding conifers. These trees, also called wilding pines, are considered a major threat to ecosystems and biodiversity in New Zealand. Among the organizations dealing with the problem is Environment Canterbury, which is leading events focused solely on removing and controlling the plants.

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Volunteer Seal of Approval

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Image courtesy of Michael Elliott at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

by Robert Barossi

Another blog title, another really bad pun. Yes, this story involves seals. Harbor seals, to be exact. It also involves one of my favorite local organizations, Save the Bay in Rhode Island, an organization that was also featured heavily in my book. They recently led the effort to count seals in Narragansett Bay and came away with the highest number of counted seals in history. These kinds of monitoring programs continue to be an essential way for experts to keep track of wildlife populations. And an important way for dedicated volunteers to get involved and have a impact in their environment.

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Volunteers Never Tire

Underwater LeavesPhoto by Robert Barossi

by Robert Barossi

After a week or so off from the blog, and from life in general with a little much needed vacation, it’s time to get back to the volunteer stories. And yes, this post’s title is one of my worst puns ever, since this story involves volunteers pulling tires out of a river. Coming out of Connecticut, the story is notable for just how many tires volunteers found: 420. That’s a lot of tires to pull out of a three mile stretch of river. A number of groups worked together to achieve this important cleanup effort, including the Boy Scouts, the Railroad Museum of New England and the Naugatuck River Revival Group.

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Environmental Volunteers Build Bridges

IMG_0865Photo by Robert Barossi

by Robert Barossi

That headline certainly has a literal and figurative meaning. On one hand, volunteers build bridges between environmental organizations and the surrounding communities. People often, if not always, get to know organizations through meeting and speaking with volunteers. One the other hand, volunteers are sometimes tasked with building literal bridges, like the one volunteers are considering along the Illinois River Trail in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area in Oregon. There are actually around one hundred bridges in need of repair in the area and the Siskiyou Mountain Club is leading the effort to give some attention and care to the worst of them. Check out the full article for more information on just how the group plans to achieve this impressive and important goal.

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Environmental Volunteers Enforcing Laws?

Underwater LeavesPhoto by Robert Barossi

by Robert Barossi

The new month starts with a fascinating story out of Singapore. Back when I was talking to volunteers for my book, many of them talked about how they were often asked to be authority figures, of a sort. For example, trail stewards were given the authority to tell other trail users to stop littering or pick up their trash. While they weren’t any type of official law enforcement representative, they were given the ability to act in an enforcement role.

A new law in Singapore takes this a step further, and a number of people are concerned. Volunteers are being given the right and ability to enforce environmental laws, such as the ability to hand out citations to other citizens who are caught littering. These volunteers will work for the National Environment Agency, which has offered some assurances, such as background checks for the volunteers and a training period during which they’ll work with NEA officers. Still, opposition voices have raised questions regarding the appropriateness and necessity of giving these kinds of powers to volunteers. Another article on the new law offers a few different perspectives on these issues.

If you enjoyed any of the stories on this blog, check out my eBook for many more environmental volunteer stories РBeing Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers  Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day

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