Posts Tagged ‘Environment’

Seagrass Spotter

Project Seagrass was created with the mission of turning cutting-edge research into effective conservation action and education schemes, by collaborating with local communities. Seagrass meadows are subsea flowering plants that attract marine life and help fight the bacteria that are killing coral reefs. Seagrass can absorb large amounts of carbon and is a significant contributor in the environment.
During the financial year to 31 March 2018 ‘Project Seagrass received funding from;
a. The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi for the development of The
Dugong and Seagrass Research Toolkit.
b. Natural England for the yearly Isles of Scilly Seagrass Monitoring
c. The Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University for
developments to our seagrass monitoring drone.’


  • Seagrass is slow to grow and is at risk from traditional anchorage methods. The national marine aquarium 1032491 is working on new ecomooring designs.
  • Cooperation among charities is seen as a viable way to optimise return for resources in the Marine environment. see MCS
  • There are plenty of niche charities to support but this may be one to keep an eye on as it develops.

Protection of Birds?

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)  207076 should try to do what it says on the tin i.e. protect birds. How far they sometimes go in this endeavour is a matter of opinion. Sir Ian Botham an advocate for ‘You Forgot the Birds’ a network designed to monitor conservation charities  questions  the RSPB on many issues.
  • Do the RSPB ‘milk it’ when a golden eagle goes missing for a month? Or when a hen harrier thought to have been hunted illegally is seen 10 months later.
  • Is the RSPB spending  more on soft conservation than bird habitat or creating conditions for birds to flourish.
  • University research in 2017 claims ‘grouse moors are not the ecological deserts some campaigners claim but are teeming with endangered birds.’
  • It takes courage to manage nature and that involves controlling predators.

How is the RSPB Doing Financially

The reports and accounts for 2016/17 have just been published

  • The treasurer reports income of £140 million costing £36.1 to raise leaving a surplus ‘to spend on saving nature’.
  • There is a £90m black hole pension liability provided in the accounts so financial reserves are depleted. There is £196m tied up in nature reserves.
  • The one and a quarter million members donated £86m through subscriptions and legacies  nearly two thirds of all income.


  • The national support and goodwill towards ‘birds’ and the charity should not be abused.
  • There is an undercurrent surrounding the charity that causes concern in some quarters.
  • The detailed accounts are worth more thorough examination when they are submitted to the charity commission.

Conkers Charity – Top of the Tree

And the winner is …… a conker or to be more specific Aesculus hippocastanum the Horse Chestnut tree which has been been crowned the UK’s Favourite Tree in a public poll by The Royal Society of Biology (RSB)  277981.

This first place was won with only 675  votes in the house magazine Biology Week 2017 poll. This shows how few votes some organisations need to make significant and sometimes distorted claims.

The Royal Society of Biology

The RSB is a membership organisation  advising government and influencing policy; advancing education and professional development and engaging and encouraging public interest in biology and the life sciences. The terms biology, biosciences, life sciences, and biological sciences are used interchangeably to encompass all areas of the science of life from molecules, through whole organisms to ecosystems. It appears to be well funded and able to conduct a large range of scientific and educational activities. This includes numerous awards, grants of up to £500 to put on local biology events and sponsoring the British Biology Olympiad. Charles Darwin House is co-owned by RSB one of six learned societies most of which are charities concerned with various branches of biology and its applications.


Where are all the Plastic Bag 5p’s Going

Since October 2015 shoppers in England are charged 5p for every new single use plastic bag they obtain from a shop . Scotland started a similar scheme in 2014. The income should go to good causes.

The charge applies only to shops or chains with 250 or more full-time employees and there are 261 such chains registered. Some items are excluded such as unwrapped food, raw meat and fish where there is a food safety risk, prescription medicines, uncovered blades, seeds, bulbs and flowers, or live fish and paper bags. Smaller businesses can introduce a charge if they wish but remain unregistered.

Benefits from the Law

  • £60m savings in litter clean-up costs and less pollution in seas and rivers.
  • Large savings from the reduced hydrocarbon consumption and other environmental benefits.
  • Over £400m should be raised for good causes if the 5p’s collected are passed on to charities as originally envisaged?
  • Increased public awareness of plastic pollution.
  • Retailers are not spending money on single use bags they used to give away.

Charity Schemes

  • Retailers  need to report what they do with the money. Smaller charities could pitch direct to retailers for a slice of the cash generated.
  • Some major supermarket chains, including Aldi, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s and The Cooperative Group have worked with CAF.
  • Waitrose have just concluded a deal with  Marine Conservation Society to fund clean ups.
  • Tesco have just stopped  selling “single use” 5p  bags instead offering shoppers reusable “bags for life” costing 10p. Double or quits for their local community grant scheme.

Bags of Suspicion

Are some retailers keeping the 5p charge to boots profits or to offset the cost of all the bags and packaging they supply.

Are some retailers collecting the charge without being require too.

Are some retailers and charity administrations using the income to cover inappropriate costs  or none charitable purpose.


Unusual Clothes Charity

 HIS CHURCH  1097667

Reuse, repurpose and recycle are ways this church has reinvented charitable help using two niche supplies of charity clothing.

  1. According to a BBC programme His Church, has been so successful that a large proportion of British Trading Standards authorities now hand over all the clothes they seize to the charity. ‘The rebranding and embroidery of such donated clothes with the label “HIS” means that many underprivileged people have become proud to wear new clothes donated by the Charity.’
  2. The Charity continues to receive  used sleeping bags from various concerts that have occurred around the UK. These bags are washed and repaired if necessary and then donated to those in need, both in the UK and abroad.

The Charity is also working with several major football clubs to  “give the child a breakfast” from donated cereal. Those football clubs are, in return, providing out of date football kits to the Charity for onward transmission to Liberia and elsewhere. His Church has experience and good contacts with Liberia often crucial for smaller charities wishing to help in poor countries.

Averaging charitable expenditure of £500,000 for each or the last 5 years this niche charity just needs to keep it’s eye on the ball.


New Corporate Wheeze 2 September 2017

Big brand Rohan have a one month offer to help themselves. The highstreet retailer of walking and climbing clothes is encouraging you to ‘Gift Your Gear’  to a worthy cause for a 15% discount on new full price purchases.

Said Sarah Howcroft the organiser of the project ‘The outdoor gear you donate makes a real difference to local community organisations, youth groups and charities.’

As the saying goes ‘The Lord helps them who help themselves’.

Lobster Pot using its Noodle.

1105434 -The National Lobster Hatchery is a marine conservation, research and education charity best known for  lobster stock enhancement programmes.
  • Research projects with Innovate UK, fishermen and universities have developed methods to grow on baby lobsters from eggs before releasing them into the wild.
  • The NLH has recently filed a patent for the sea-based container culture SBCC system for growing on without supplementary feed.
  • An NLH trading company will generate income from products created and grown by the charity and it’s research & development work.
  • A visitor centre in Padstow attracts 45,000 visitors a year as part of its charitable education commitment.

 Intellectual Property

  • All charities have some intellectual property starting with their objectives, presence in a sector, contact lists, methods of operation, contracts, image & copyrights and a host of other intangible assets.
  • It is not a problem for well managed and well funded organisations to control it’s intellectual property. However good patents are expensive to obtain and more expensive to protect.
  • NLH needs to take heed of good advice to stop the lobsters tale wagging but never delivering.

Shortage of Tree Planting

Four main government quangos responsible for planting and maintaining the British tree-rich landscape are a bit stumped.  According to new information from the Forestry Commission less than 900,000 trees were planted in 2016 the lowest number for 40 years. According to the Daily Telegraph it is believed that during the year three full-time professional tree planters could  exceed this total. That is where they are going wrong, t’ree fellas are not what is needed.

Government Assistance & Bureaucracy

1. Forestry Commission is a non-ministerial government department responsible for forestry in England and Scotland. Budget £55m pa. They have launched  The Woodland Carbon Fund  scheme to boost the rate of woodland creation that sits alongside the grant support available via Countryside Stewardship. DEFRA’s Forestry Innovation Fund is a nationwide £1 million fund to support schemes that will promote the growth of the forest industry

2. Natural England  is a £200m pa non-departmental public body in the United Kingdom sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs the 2000 staff promote nature conservation, protect biodiversity and enhancing the landscape

3. The Rural Payments Agency is an executive agency of the UK Department for Environment paying out over £2 billion in subsidies each year.

4. Countryside Stewardship Scheme now part of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 which targets £3.1bn of government support for agri-environment and forestry.

Charity’s Contribution

294344 – The Woodland Trust  a £37.5m pa charity with the following objectives: ‘to conserve, restore and re-establish trees, in particular broad-leaved trees, plants and all forms of wild life in the united kingdom of great britain and northern ireland and thereby to secure and enhance the enjoyment by the public of the natural environment of those territories.’

279000 The Tree Council works towards making trees matter to people; more trees, of the right kind, in the right places; better care for all trees of all ages and inspiring effective action for trees.  An umbrella body and a forum for tackling issues relating to trees and woods, it  promotes the improvement of the environment by the planting and conservation of trees and woods throughout the UK with a comparatively modest budget of £378k pa

1032154 – Trees For Cities spends £1m pa for trees in inner cities.


  • What happened to the bonfire of the quangos? No wood to get the bonfire going?
  • Charities fight bureaucracy on a regular basis not least when they want to organise and fund local tree planting.

Just Because You Can – Osprey Gate

It doesn’t mean you must or should just because you could.

Since 1982, the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust 512390 has been the leading voluntary organisation promoting wildlife conservation in 19 nature reserves showcasing of some  the finest remnants of prime wildlife habitat in the county. The umbrella organisation  Royal Society Of Wildlife Trusts 207238 aims to …..’ educate the public in understanding and appreciating nature ……’

Osprey Gate

Web cams, YouTube and a special Osprey project have shown nature in the wild to an even wilder audience. Ill and injured chicks have been left to fend of themselves but some criticism about the lack of intervention has been vitriolic.

At least the media attention is going partway to fulfilling the educational aims of the trust. One of the best quotes was this ‘is not Disney World’ and just because you could intervene may not mean you should.

Global Warming – Educators or Deniers

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF)-  1131448 is a UK  think tank  whose stated aims are to challenge “extremely damaging and harmful policies” envisaged by governments to mitigate anthropogenic global warming.

 They have significant cash reserves built up over  the 5 years from £1.7m of donations made by private individuals and charitable trusts .
‘The Trustees are satisfied that the self-denying ordinance contained in the Protocol for the Acceptance of Gifts laid down at the first meeting of the Board of Trustees to ensure the Foundation’s independence from energy interests is being strictly observed’  …………..yeh right but there is not the detail of donations in the report and accounts that many other charities would include.The GWPF professes to be ‘an all party and non party organisation’ without an official or shared view about the science of global warming and supporters cover a broad range of political opinion and differing views. This is exemplified by the trustees listed below

The GWPF publishes a range of reports on a regular basis including:

  • Reporting on 31 March 2017 to US congressional committee Professor John Christy said ‘climate science is dysfunctional, beset by bias and group-think, and is using a profoundly unscientific approach’.  Professor Judith Curry explained that “consensus science”, as practiced by much of mainstream climatology, was “not science” at all, while “self-deception”.
  •  Dr Ole Humlum, Professor of Physical Geography at the University Centre in Svalbard (Norway) has published a report where he concludes that “There is little doubt that we are living in a warm period. However, there is also little doubt that current climate change is not abnormal and not outside the range of natural variations that might be expected.”

Read On…

Marine Conservation

The Marine Conservation Society is not one of the Goliaths of the membership driven group of charities that includes RSPB, National Trust, English Heritage, National Trust for Scotland or Royal Horticultural Society. Never the less it is a membership organisation that punches above its weight as it seeks to secure healthy and plentiful seas.

1004005 – Marine Conservation Society Aims

  • Reduce beach litter and dumping at sea,
  • Encouraging wider sale and purchase of sustainable seafood
  • Creating areas of protection in our seas, just as there are on land.
  • Working with schools, industry, politicians and the public to ensure the seas are not out of sight and out of mind.

Courting Controversy

After the successful agitation  for a charge on plastic bags attention has been refocused on other marine pollutants. A ‘micro bead ban’ is a key initiative to save fish from eating plastic soup. Not only face scrubs and toothpaste but some washing powder and floor cleaners contain nano-beads that enter the food chain. Wet wipes are another gripe for a future initiative.

The charity made a recent statement that  ‘scientific advice means three haddock fisheries in the North Sea and West of Scotland are no longer on their green ‘Fish to Eat’ list.’ Media interpreted this as an attempted ban on haddock when it was intended to ‘encourage people to make informed buying decisions, and to try and choose seafood from the fisheries and farming methods that have the least impact on our seas’.

Getting a petition up about Balloons that can entangle and choke wildlife to death. Volunteer beach litter pickers and cleaners saw a rise of over 50% in the amount of balloon litter on UK beaches. This was dwarfed by over a quarter of a million pieces of mixed beach litter collected in one weekend by 6000 volunteers.


  • Balancing involvement with business and industry is a delicate task. The sustainable seafood coalition names some of the major players in the industry.
  • Considering income and expenditure is less than £3m per annum a great deal is being achieved. More money and growth is not a surefire way to success.
  • The marine environment  still appears to be a low priority for the UK government. Better policy, management and control is needed.

There is a clever statement in the quarterly magazine asking members of mcsuk if they have a potentially useful connection with a ‘Trust, Foundation or Livery Company that may be able to support some aspects’ of the marine conservation work. This is sensible leverage to help with a gigantic task and widen involvement.


Volunteering in a Green Economy

Book Cover

There may be as many forms of volunteering as there are willing people seeking to help. Volunteering for a ‘green’ project or in a specific country can be researched in a variety of publications (soon outdated in a fast moving world) and via web sites or better still via personal contacs. The bigger charities often use volunteers by the thousands whilst solo efforts can make a significant local impact. The smaller and international projects in less developed areas may need a bit more research but are often challenging yet fulfilling.

 Some Types of Volunteering

  • Voluntary Work in Nature Conservation
  • Humanitarian and Development volunteering
  • Wildlife & Conservation volunteering
  • Archaeological and Heritage volunteering
  • Wildlife rehabilitation

Gap year projects tend towards the short term whilst green volunteering may need a longer commitment. Certainly many of the projects and needs are permanent or long lasting.

Tips for Overseas & Project Volunteering

  • Research the organisation and project thoroughly using due diligence.Try to assess integrity, financial stability and the  commitment of the organisations.
  • Contact previous and current volunteers. Try to ascertain the nature of the work to be performed and the onsite management if any.
  • Most ‘projects’ require a contribution from the volunteer. It may be the main source of finance for the project and seeks to cover the cost of food and lodgings and some overheads. Small projects in developing areas may be free of cost but they are hard to find and will certainly exclude airfares.
  • Those with special skills, like vets or sanitation engineers, may be reimbursed living expenses or be externally charity funded.
  • The longer the volunteering term the more valuable the volunteer and less contribution may be expected.
  • Communication can be crucial to a successful project. Cultural barriers can be as significant as language barriers and are not to be underestimated.
  • Do not show up at a location in advance. Prepare, contact the organisers in advance and optimise your own time and efforts.

Some Links & Contacts

Charity as a career in our resources.

Wildlife rehabilitation is the treatment and care of injured, orphaned, or sick wild animals so that they can be released back to the wild.  British Wildlife Rehabilitation

From Pandas in China and Sea Turtles in Mexico to a reforestation project in Tanzania where you can help arrest the decline in Tanzania’s forests there are   thousands different projects and opportunities available around the world.  Conservation volunteering

The National Volunteer Center is a branch of the English Opens Doors Program and is supported by the United Nations Development Programme-Chile.

Beach cleaning   with Marine Conservation

Laddr – Volunteering a volunteering app

Good Governance link page to training and development

Volunteering Matters  Registered in England and Wales as a charity, number 291222 and in Scotland as charity number SC039171


Better a volunteer than a pressed worker

Go for it – dive in and do your best!

Don’t expect anything, keep an open mind and get ready for hard work