Tag Archives: environmental volunteers

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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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.

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Young Volunteers in Malaysia

ID-100212556Image courtesy of think4photop at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

by Robert Barossi

There have been some great international stories lately, showcasing the kind of work being done by volunteers around the world. Two previous posts featured United Arab Emirates and Great Britain, and today a story out of Malaysia. This one is notable for a number of reasons, first and perhaps foremost is the fact that the volunteers are young, from primary schools, high schools and colleges. Getting people involved in environmental volunteering at this age is essential. They are the volunteers of tomorrow. It’s also worth noting the kind of work being done here. It’s exactly the same kind of litter and pollution cleanup that goes on in and along rivers in every corner of the globe. It again demonstrates how similar we all are, whether its our impact on our local environment or our ability to protect it.

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Volunteers Clean the Canals

Through the TreesPhoto by Robert Barossi

by Robert Barossi

One of things I loved about this story was that part of the headline reads “Band of jolly volunteers…”¬† Any story about a band of jolly volunteers is likely to be a very good story. This one happens to come out of Worcestershire County in England, where volunteers have been showing up in all kinds of weather to participate in month-long effort to clean the local canals. Organized and led by the Canal & River Trust, the volunteers have been working along 32 miles of canal, “cleaning up litter, managing the vegetation, making sure there are no dangers for boat users or towpath walkers and checking the locks, weirs and any other aspect of the canals to make sure they work properly.” The story provides a great example of the kind of challenging and difficult work volunteers are doing and how the experience can be highly rewarding and a lot of fun

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Volunteers Rebuild a Coastal Marsh

P1000687Photo by Robert Barossi

by Robert Barossi

Up here in New England, coastal erosion is a major issue facing many area residents. There’s a long history of people developing and building too close to a coast that has been falling away for some time. In many places, the erosion is accelerating, accompanied by rising sea levels which pose a very real threat to many people and their homes and businesses, not to mention the non-human population. While numerous organizations are working to combat coastal erosion, it’s often volunteers who are working with those groups, doing much of the work, especially since the organizations can’t always hire as many full time staff members as they may want or need. Similarly, many miles away, in Corpus Christi, Texas, volunteers are playing a big part in a major project designed to rebuild a section of eroded coastline. Working with the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, volunteers have been helping the cause by planting grasses and other vegetation. The article’s author (who is not named, as far as I can tell) ends with an excellent, if opinionated point, saying, “I figure the more diverse and far reaching the volunteer effort, the greater the sense of ownership the project will receive. Perhaps then, visitors will care enough not to trash it.”

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Volunteers Observe Impacts of Climate Change

IMG_0612Photo by Robert Barossi

by Robert Barossi

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the high in Boston could hit sixty degrees today. Later this week, temperatures are predicted to be in the high forties and low fifties. This kind of weather has been the rule, rather than the exception, throughout this warm New England winter. As this story out of Maine demonstrates, volunteers are front and center when it comes to observing the ramifications of a warmer climate. These volunteers with Aroostook Birders are seeing countless indicators of just how climate change is impacting bird species. Many birds are staying in the area much longer, rather than flying south, and other birds are appearing for the first time ever. These changes can and likely will have ripple effects throughout the ecosystem in Maine and in every region where these wildlife population changes are taking place.

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Volunteers Instead of Technology

Up a TreePhoto by Robert Barossi

by Robert Barossi

There are more and more examples around us of humans being replaced by technology. It’s a phenomenon that has been going on for many years and shows no signs of slowing down, especially as our technology becomes even more advanced. Environmental volunteers are not immune to this, they too can in some cases be replaced by machines. Stories on this blog have highlighted the fact that drones and even satellites in space are now being used as tools in the work of environmental volunteers. On the other hand, as this story out of Slate points out, it may be better to stick with human volunteers rather than hi-tech toys. Specifically, the essay discusses counting birds, and even more specifically, the Christmas Bird Count that happens every winter, organized by the Audubon Society. As the author points out, this kind of very human method of data collection may have far more benefits than those which utilize only emotionless computers and algorithms.

If you’ve enjoyed the stories on this blog, download my eBook for many more – Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day

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Volunteers Cleaning Up in the United Arab Emirates

13-08-06-abu-dhabi-by-RalfR-029Photo by Ralf Roletschek, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

by Robert Barossi

While most of the stories on this blog happen to occur in and around the United States, environmental volunteers are working constantly all over the world. Environmental devastation and crises in every nation are tackled by professionals and volunteers alike. This story out of the United Arab Emirates illustrates the kind of volunteer work that you will find happening on every continent, in every country. Just like parks and beaches everywhere, the ones in Abu Dhabi are often filled with trash and litter. While efforts to get people to stop littering work to some degree, it’s dedicated volunteers who must come by after the picnics are over and the tourists are gone to collect the trash and clean up the litter.

If you’ve enjoyed the stories on this blog, download my eBook – Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day

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