Magazine article Geographical

Travel for a Living

Magazine article Geographical

Travel for a Living

Article excerpt

Anita Prosser is the head of international development for the Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV), an organisation that offers conservation holidays in the UK and abroad. Over the past 40 years, BTCV volunteers have been making an impact in conservation throughout the UK and Europe and as far afield as Japan. Petra Fitzgerald talks to her about her organisation's work

What does BTCV do?

It's an organisation that works with people who want to protect their environment. We offer holidays that give volunteers an opportunity to be involved in caring for their surroundings. It was started in 1959 at a time when we hadn't designated many nature reserves or protected areas and we realised that we not only needed to designate them but also manage them. Working with volunteers was a way of achieving some of this management work. It also began as, and still is, a way of training and educating people in conservation practices, as well as giving them the opportunity to get into the countryside. We offer places for around 4,000 people a year to go on short weekend breaks or holidays of up to six weeks

What can your volunteers do and where can they go?

Our programmes offer everything from dry-stone walling or tree planting to habitat management or monitoring endangered species such as wolves and turtles. The holidays we offer are varied and always very practical and hands-on. In the UK, we have projects as far up as Shetland right down to the Cornish coast, and Northern Ireland. A few projects are in protected areas and are often in very scenic places. Over the years, BTCV volunteers have managed to re-establish, maintain and manage the foothpaths used in the national parks. This work has been essential in restoring fragile habitats that were being ruined by walkers. We started our international programme 12 years ago and now a quarter dour holidays are overseas. We run projects in more than 20 countries. This year, South Africa was especially popular. Japan also attracts a lot of visitors, as the BTCV holiday allows people to see the country in a way that they never would as a tourist. Iceland has always been a very popular destination and is a region where, owing to our sustained work, we have had a big impact on the environment.

With which other groups do you work? …

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