Feature – Burrenbeo Conservation Volunteers

Feature – Burrenbeo Conservation Volunteers


Photo: © Pat Flynn 2018

By Kate Lavender

Local voluntary groups are working hard to improve our ecological sustainability on every level.

In the third of this short series of articles, Kate Lavender writes about her work with the Burrenbeo Conservation Volunteers.

The Burrenbeo Conservation Volunteers (BCV) are based in Kinvara and work all over the Burren on various different conservation projects. The BCV are extremely lucky to run under the umbrella of the Burrenbeo Trust (a local landscape charity) which allows us to have a few hours a week of a paid member of staff to keep things running, organise events, liaise with our experts, print materials, etc. This is definitely a bonus as having someone paid to do all these jobs helps to keep the group going – people have less and less free time for consistently volunteering to organise the more office type jobs. The Trust also covers the cost of the BCV insurance.

Ever wondered what exactly Burrenbeo Trust do? Or why we do it? Or how you can get involved? It's impossible to fit it all into a 2 minute video but this might start answering some of those questions.

Posted by Burrenbeo Trust on Monday, November 23, 2015

We came into being in 2009 when a need was identified for active conservation work to be undertaken in the Burren. Since then we’ve grown greatly in strength and versatility and we’ve learnt a lot of lessons along the way. About 5 or 6 years ago we established a committee to guide the work of the volunteers which was an extremely important move helping to share ownership of the group and strengthening our conservation volunteering community.

Our main objectives are to work for the wellbeing of the Burren and our volunteers. We believe very strongly in education – all our projects have been set up with various local experts to teach us best practise and also to make sure that we all know why the work needs to be done.

We have a huge variety of projects that we work on in the Burren, ranging from maintaining bat and butterfly breeding sites, keeping monuments clear of scrub, assisting on archaeological excavations and the follow up work and coastal clean ups to dry stone walling and gaping. All of our work is not for profit or private land owners.

We’ve achieved many things over the past 9 years of which we are extremely proud of but our main achievement is that for such a small organisation we have touched a relatively large number of people – 351 different people have volunteered with us over the last 9 years putting just over 1500 days of volunteer work into the conservation of the Burren.

Our usual challenges (aside from the Burren weather) are man power and having enough equipment for all our volunteers. We are very lucky in that our needs are very small financially. Through the Burrenbeo Trust we have applied for funding and have had some small successes at this. The man power challenge is probably our greatest and we try to combat this through an annual open day and as much publicity surrounding our events as possible.

We have attempted to create a small community that each volunteer feels part of and valued, and as mentioned previously we do our best to give our volunteers new skills and knowledge about the Burren. Hopefully we can encourage our volunteers to keep coming back out into the Burren with us. We also try to link up with other groups for some of our projects, e.g., The Vincent Wildlife Trust, Fanore/Lisdoonvarna Sea Anglers, local scout groups, Clean Coasts and the Kilnaboy Heritage Group.

We believe that our group addresses the following Sustainable Goals: Health (conservation volunteering is great for mental and physical health of the volunteers – volunteer wellbeing!), Education – the more you know about a place the more likely you are to look after and care for it, Oceans (our coastal clean ups have collected more than 4 tonnes of rubbish from the Burren coastline in the last 4 years) and Biodiversity (through projects like our butterfly  and bat breeding site and invasive species monitoring).

You can find out more about Kate’s work through the Burrenbeo Trust website (www.burrenbeo.com) and through the Burrenbeo facebook page. You can also sign up to their email list (email volunteer@burrenbeo.com) to find out about up and coming events.