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Meet the volunteers

A growing network of volunteers across the country are spending part of their free time to help control invasive non-native species. Their incredible efforts help native species and habitats to recover, and benefit their own health and wellbeing through exercise, a better connection with nature, and meeting new like-minded people.

Meet some of the volunteers below and find out about their experiences:

Rhiann Mitchell-Holland, Community Invasive Non-Native (Species) Group.

Being a nature enthusiast for as long as I can remember, my desire to take care of the environment and preserve its beauty is innate. In fact, when really immersed in nature, there is an undoubtable connection and sense of respect that I think resonates with us all.

Growing up in Cornwall, with its unique array of wildlife, habitats and landscapes, allowed me to explore and appreciate the relationship between ecosystems and the vital services they provide. It was during my time studying for a BSc (Hons) in applied Zoology that I joined my first Local Action Group and raised my awareness of invasive non-native species and their broader ecological and economic impacts. This not only amplified my desire to protect Cornwall’s biodiversity by helping to tackle the issue caused by INNS, but it was instrumental to the research and subsequent publication of my honours project, focusing on the impacts of Lagarosiphon major on freshwater environments.

The experience and skills gained from being involved with LAG’s such as CINNG (Community Invasive Non-Native (Species) Group) highlights the importance of expert knowledge exchange for wider mitigation, and offers many opportunities for networking and collaborative work. From simply becoming a member, I’m now actively working with CINNG - assisting with running the Cornwall Invasive Species Forum, taking on the secretariat duties, organising conferences and working on research projects. Alongside this, I shared my experience in INNS, biodiversity and conservation throughout Cornwall during my role as an educator for the Your Shore Beach Rangers project (a collaboration between Cornwall College and Cornwall Wildlife Trust), and as a presenter at Newquay Zoo.

To know that you are contributing to the protection of your local environment and ultimately, the planet, is why I thoroughly enjoy being part of a LAG and would encourage anybody to get involved. After all, nature has always been a healer for us, so why not help to heal nature?

Find out more about the Community Invasive Non-Native (Species) Group.

Patsy Baverstock, New Forest Non-native Plants Project

I have been a volunteer with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust for the last 5 years, helping with the eradication of Himalayan Balsam along the Cadnam, Avon and Lymington Rivers.

I find the work extremely satisfying, knowing we are removing a non-native plant which has taken over from our native species. I enjoy being outdoors, working with many like-minded people, feeling that we’re doing something beneficial to the area. Seeing areas that have been cleared during a session, is one of the rewards. It is good for your health, mentally and physically. I look forward each year to helping out whenever I can.

Find out more about the New Forest Non-native Plants Project