Getting everyone involved
Do you want to be part of the Chilterns’ future? Our work’s not just for experts, everyone can get involved!
Whether you want to care for our nature reserves, have a special interest in the wildlife or heritage of the area, or you want to share a passion for an outdoor hobby, you can help to enhance the Chilterns’ special landscapes for future generations.
Behind every protected landscape is an army of people who care for its special habitats, landscapes and heritage sites. Many nature, heritage and voluntary organisations in the Chilterns are always on the lookout for new volunteers to get involved with their work. Volunteering can be a great way to make a positive difference while gaining new skills, knowledge and experience and meeting new people.
Below, we’ve highlighted some ways that you can get involved in projects run by us, the Chilterns Conservation Board (CCB). If you’re an experienced walk leader you could also help with our Chilterns Walking Festival.
If you’re looking for something different, you can see the range of opportunities that other organisations offer by visiting our Volunteering hub.
‘Citizen scientists’ are volunteers who get involved in data gathering. Current opportunities include carrying out surveys to monitor wildlife or plant populations, and helping to monitor the health of the Chilterns’ chalk streams. The data gathered is vital to informing conservation decisions and monitoring the progress of nature recovery in the AONB.
All levels of experience are welcome. You don’t need to be an expert as free training is given – just bring along your enthusiasm. We also welcome involvement from those with experience, such as keen birdwatchers, or people with expertise in water quality or data presentation.
Tracking the Impact
Tracking the Impact is a citizen science project monitoring the state of nature and wildlife in the Buckinghamshire Chilterns. Each volunteer is allocated a one kilometre survey ‘square’, in which they regularly record the numbers of butterflies, breeding birds or plant species they find. If you join you are offered free training on species identification, survey methods and data entry – a fantastic learning opportunity. The data gathered will help inform and back up wildlife conservation decisions.
Chalk Streams Citizen Science
Our precious Chilterns chalk streams are under threat from pollution and climate change. But you can help! If you volunteer with one of our River Chess citizen science projects, you can get involved in monitoring the health of this threatened river habitat. Activities include spotting sediment inputs to the river, surveying insect numbers, and measuring river flows and water quality. You could also help monitor water vole populations. If you don’t live near the River Chess, there are opportunities to take part citizen science activities for other Chilterns chalk streams. Alternatively, get involved in practical conservation work, such as clearing invasive species from the river.
Heritage and history volunteering
Some of our Flagship projects have volunteering opportunities focusing on the history or prehistory of the Chilterns AONB. You can help to make exciting discoveries people’s working lives in the past, rediscover long-lost crafts or walk in the footsteps of ancient people – there’s so much to learn and do.
Become a Volunteer Researcher with our Woodlanders Lives and Landscapes project and join a friendly team uncovering the stories of the men, women and children who once worked in the Chilterns. Find out about the rural and domestic industries in the villages and woods of the AONB, including chairmaking, lacemaking, plaiting straw (for hats), and tambour beading (for fashion). Gain training and experience in archive research, recording oral histories and more.
Festival Walk leaders needed!
Our Chilterns Walking Festival encourages more people to walk and explore the Chilterns. It runs twice a year (in May and October) and boasts a packed, 15-day programme of more than 90 guided walks giving participants the chance to meet the artists, craftspeople, farmers, food producers, countryside rangers, archaeologists, historians and storytellers of the Chilterns.
We are always on the lookout for new walk leaders to expand our Festival programme. More than half of the walks we provide are free of charge (or with optional donation), and are delivered by volunteers, walking or community groups. The rest are mostly offered at discounted rates by organisations that are keen to establish themselves in the market and value the wide exposure they get; it’s certainly a great platform for piloting new activities.
If your organisation would like to organise a Festival walk, we’d love to partner with you! If you already organise walks, then we can also promote an existing walk as part of our Festival, allocating a certain number of places to walking festival bookers.
We are keen to expand our offer of Access for All walks. These include wheelchair routes, walks suitable for those with limited mobility, stile-free walks, walks for visually impaired people, or walks suitable for pushchairs. Do get in touch if this is something you can help us with.
If you want to volunteer with us, but have little or no experience of leading walks, don’t let that stop you! We can offer training, and may be able to run a pilot with you.
Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Volunteering Hub
Many other organisations offer a diverse range of volunteering opportunities across the Chilterns. Don’t assume it’s all hands-on physical work and getting muddy! There are opportunities to suit a wide range of interests, experience levels and physical abilities.
From helping out at a nature reserve to volunteering at a museum, maintaining an arboretum to managing environmental data for a records centre, there is so much to get involved with. Visit our Volunteering Hub to find out more and get in touch with each organisation directly for an informal chat.
Other ways you can help
If you might struggle to find the time to commit to a volunteering role, or want to help the Chilterns on your own patch, there are lots of things you can do:
- Support the CCB, local nature and wildlife organisations or charities by donating or fundraising.
- Keep an eye on our vacancies page for job opportunities within the CCB.
- Visit your local nature spots, rivers and woodlands or enjoy a staycation in the Chilterns. Find out where to go using our interactive map. Always follow the Countryside Code.
- Garden with wildlife in mind. Use native planting schemes where possible and try not to introduce non-native plants into the surrounding area, for example by discarding cuttings. This helps to avoid introducing invasive species to other areas of the countryside. Find out more about this and other threats to our woodlands, wetlands, grasslands, and commons.
- Encourage your employer or local business to look after their land for wildlife.
- Save water – this could help stop chalk streams from drying out.
- Reduce your carbon footprint – helping to reduce the impacts of climate change on our habitats, our wildlife and our way of life.