Back to Work and the National Trust for Jersey have joined forces to launch a new volunteer scheme to undertake a wide range of conservation tasks on land owned by the Trust and provide placements and skills training for locally qualified jobseekers.
The National Trust Volunteer Scheme is being piloted over a six month period with supervised groups of up to 16 people taking month-long unpaid placements to do conservation work on the Trust’s land. A six month conservation work programme has been set up for this project and includes a diverse range of tasks such as tree planting, meadow restoration, repairing footpaths, fence erection, invasive species control and maintenance of Trust properties.
Social Security Minister Senator Francis Le Gresley said that the volunteer scheme provided huge benefits for all parties involved. “For the National Trust, it provides a boost to their manpower improving their ability to complete a higher quantity of countryside and conservation work, which in turn benefits the community and the Island’s wildlife. At the same time those jobseekers who successfully join the scheme learn new skills and gain experience which will improve their employability.”
This scheme has been running for the past two weeks and the first volunteer group has been set the task of planting up to 4,000 hedgerow trees on farm land owned by the Trust above Mourier valley in St John, to improve the habitat for farmland birds. This is a key action point of the Birds on the Edge Project.
The Birds on the Edge Project is a joint initiative between the States of Jersey, the National Trust for Jersey and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, which supports the active management of Jersey’s coastland to restore populations of birds and includes the re-introduction of the Red-billed Chough to the Island.
During each monthly work placement the participants will be provided with training in countryside skills and management as well as receiving training in first aid, workplace communications, customer service, manual handling and health and safety.
The National Trust for Jersey’s Land Manager Jon Horn said: “The groups will be learning new skills in a number of different areas from handling machinery to countryside craft. We will also explain different aspects of the project from tree and bird identification to increasing their general knowledge of Jersey habitats. There is also significant value for us in having the ability to look at projects which we would not normally be able to concentrate on.”
‘The scheme has now been running for these past two weeks and we are extremely pleased with how things are going thus far. They have already managed to plant over 2,000 trees which is a fantastic achievement and is a testament to their level of enthusiasm and commitment. We are highly grateful to all the volunteers that have been involved with this project.’
The volunteer scheme is among a number of projects being run by Back to Work to improve the employability of locally qualified jobseekers. Candidates for the scheme will need to have been registered as actively seeking work for six months or more.