Volunteer Groups 

Citizen Science survey ideas

There are many groups and organisations which run surveys and collect records from the public. These groups may operate at the national scale (e.g. RSPB), regional scale (e.g. Clyde Forum) or local scale. This list represents a small selection of the surveys that you could participate in but if you have an interest not covered here, please do get in touch with CAG and we will be happy to point you in the direction of a group who covers your interest area!

At a local scale, you may wish to set up monitoring on your own site or local patch. Feel free to record as much or as little as you feel comfortable with. Keeping records will, over a period of time, allow you to build up a picture of the site and make it easier to notice any changes that are taking place.

A. General

OPAL (Open Air Laboratories) - http://www.OPALexplorenature.org/
OPAL is developing a wide range of local and national programmes to encourage people from all backgrounds to get back in touch with nature. The project will also generate valuable scientific data concerning the state of our environment. Although OPAL doesn’t record findings from Scotland you can still do the surveys and submit results to local recording centres or schemes. Have a look at BRISC directly below, and at other species websites linked later on.

Biological Recording in Scotland (BRISC) - http://www.brisc.org.uk
 is a charity which promotes the gathering of wildlife data in order to increase public awareness of biological diversity in Scotland and to ensure that effective actions are taken to conserve this resource. The website has an events and training opportunities section.

Nature’s calendar - http://www.naturescalendar.org.uk/
Helps with phenology surveys. Report first sightings of various species in Spring and Autumn. Record flowering times and report departures of summer migrants. The website has sections for each season and provides useful guidance on the timing of natural events (e.g. first flower/ bee/ etc.)

B. Species 

Plantlife - http://www.plantlife.org.uk/
Plantlife is a charity especially concerned with conserving plants. It runs a number of surveys annually, such as the “Wildflower Count”, which looks at easy to identify, fairly common species across a variety of habitats. Their website has some great downloadable resources including identification guides and activities for the family.
Plantlife also runs the Wild About Plants scheme. This is a project focused on England but the website contains useful resources, many of which are suitable for use across the UK.

Woodland Trust Ancient Tree Hunt - http://www.ancient-tree-hunt.org.uk/
The Woodland Trust have an inventory of ancient trees. Take part in mapping the oldest and most important trees in the UK. They can live for hundreds of years. And there are more of them in the UK than many other European countries.

Botanical Society of Great Britain and Ireland -  http://www.botanicalkeys.co.uk/flora/
The Botanical Society of the British Isles has a very thorough identification helper which can help work out which plant you have seen – some of the questions in the key are quite specific though.

Scottish Fungi - http://sites.google.com/site/scottishfungi/
An information hub for both beginner and established mycologists who are interested in Scottish fungi.

Buglife - http://www.buglife.org.uk/
Buglife Scotland runs a number of recording and monitoring schemes.

Evolution MegaLab - http://www.evolutionmegalab.org/
Identify snails you can find in your garden, in the park or under a hedge.

UK Ladybird Survey - http://www.ladybird-survey.org
The UK Ladybird Survey website has good picture ID guide and you can also send in your records.

Butterfly Conservation - https://butterfly-conservation.org/in-your-area/scottish-office
The main organisation which collects and collates butterfly and moth records, they also run regular surveys. Butterfly Conservation has a network of regional record collectors, for South Lanarkshire the contact is Scot Shanks.

The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) - http://www.ukbms.org/wcbs.htm
The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS), annual data on the population status of butterflies is derived from a wide-scale program of site-based monitoring and sampling in randomly selected 1km squares.

UK Moths - http://www.ukmoths.org.uk/
Useful for help with identification, including the ‘Beginner’s top 20’ which shows some of the more characteristic species.

British Dragonfly Society - http://www.dragonflysoc.org.uk/home.html
The British Dragonfly Society for the identification of UK species of dragonflies and damselflies and information about contributing sightings to the National Atlas Project (which runs 2008 – 2013). Records can be submitted via the website.

Bumblebee Conservation Trust - https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/
Has information on identifying bees and a guide to the common garden species you are most likely to see 

Hoverfly Recording Scheme - http://www.hoverfly.org.uk/
The National Recording Scheme, launched in 1976, aims to collate information about their ecology and distribution.

c. Amphibians and reptiles

Froglife - https://www.froglife.org/
Froglife have identification help for amphibians (frogs, toads and newts) and reptiles (snakes and lizards) Amphibians

The Clyde Amphibian and Reptile Group (CARG) - http://c-arg.webnode.com/
Species information, advice on helping amphibians and reptiles, and contacts if you need assistance.

The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation - https://www.arc-trust.org/
ARC conserves amphibians and reptiles, and the habitats on which they depend, to protect them for future generations.

D. Mammals

The Mammal Society - http://www.mammal.org.uk/
provides information on UK mammals.

The People’s Trust For Endangered Species - http://www.ptes.org
Run several mammal surveys including Molewatch, National Otter Survey, the Great Nut Hunt, Living With Mammals and Mammals on Roads.

Breeding Bird Survey - http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/bbs
Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) is the main scheme for monitoring the population changes of the UK’s common and widespread breeding birds.


Scottish Badgers - http://www.scottishbadgers.org.uk/
Record badgers, including road kill or suspected incidents of wildlife crime involving badgers.

Badgerland - http://www.badgerland.co.uk/
Explain all about Britain's favourite wild mammal, the Badger (also known as Brock Bawson, Pate or Meles meles).

Bats - http://www.bats.org.uk/
The Bat Conservation Trust collects bat records and acts as the umbrella body for local bat groups.

E. Whales and dolphins

Whale and Dolphin Conservation - http://www.wdcs.org.uk/
Volunteer with the organisation or get involved in a survey.

Sea Watch Foundation - http://www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/
Report cetacean sightings online or take part in a survey.


F. Birds

RSPB - http://www.rspb.org.uk/
To get started with bird ID and recording try the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch which runs every January. They also have an identification helper – put in habitat, colours etc and it helps you work out what it is. 

British Trust for Ornithology - https://www.bto.org/
Harness the skills and passion of birdwatchers to advance our understanding of ornithology and produce impartial science - communicated clearly for the benefit of birds and people.

Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust - http://www.gwct.org.uk
Aim for a thriving countryside rich in game and other wildlife.

G. Invasive species

Invasive species are of particular concern and some are subject to a legal requirement to report immediately if discovered in new areas.

Top species of interest in South Lanarkshire include Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed, Himalayan Balsam,Rhododendron ponticum, American Mink, Grey Squirrel, Signal Crayfish, New Zealand Flatworm and Spanish Bluebell.

You can report sightings direct to Countryside and Greenspace or online at http://www.centralscotlandgreennetwork.org/

 A number of aquatic species are also of concern. See the UK Non-Native Species Secretariat for factsheets and reporting information. https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/nonnativespecies/home/index.cfm

Grey squirrel: report grey squirrel sightings to http://www.scottishsquirrels.org.uk/


In your garden or urban areas

Living with mammals survey - http://www.ptes.org/index.php?cat=63
Please note that this survey requires results to be recorded weekly over a period of several months. 

British Trust for Ornithology Garden Birdwatch - http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/gbw

At the riverside

The Riverfly Partnership - http://www.riverflies.org

At the coast

The Marine Conservation Society - https://www.mcsuk.org

Big Seawead Search - http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/british-natural-history/seaweeds-survey/index.html

Marine Life Information Network (MARLIN) - http://www.marlin.ac.uk/ 

The Shark Trust egg case survey - http://www.eggcase.org/

Firth of Clyde Marine Invasive Non-Native Species Survey - http://www.clydeforum.com

Basking Shark - http://www.baskingsharks.org/

Jellyfish (MCS) - https://www.mcsuk.org

Seasearch - http://www.seasearch.org.uk/


Several local projects record orchard biodiversity. See http://www.clydevalleyorchards.co.uk/information/orchard-initiatives/ for detail.

iSpot: An on-line support for identifying that unknown species 
iSpot is provided by The Open University as part of the OPAL project, which is funded by the National Lottery through theBig Lottery Fund



Arkive has a wide range of species photographs and information


Nature Detectives has useful sheets for recording the seasons


ix.) What happens to the results?

The National Biodiversity Network (NBN) is a valuable resource with maps showing the results of thousands of sightings from across the UK. Many organisations and individuals who collate species records send them to the NBN which acts as a national repository.

The NBN is a collaborative project which involves many of the UK’s wildlife conservation organisations, the government and country agencies, environmental agencies, local records centres and also many voluntary groups.  All of these organisations collect and use biodiversity data and they are all committed to making this information widely available.




x.) Non-biodiversity schemes


Weather Observations Website (WOW) 
The 'Weather Observations Website' - WOW reflects recent advances in technology and how weather observations can be made. The Met Office is helping to co-ordinate the growth of the weather observing community in the UK, by asking anyone to submit the observations they are taking.


xi.) Training

Field Studies Council

Provide training courses up to professional level. Produce excellent identification guides for use in the field.



Flora Locale

Provide wildflower identification and various habitat management training courses.



South Lanarkshire Council

The Countryside and Greenspace Service run a capacity building programme for local volunteers. We work in partnership with other local organisations such as the Central Scotland Forest Trust and the Clyde and Avon Valleys Landscape project to ensure training is accessible to all.


xii.) Organisations who you can volunteer with:

The majority of organisations already listed here will provide volunteer opportunities or be able to point you in the direction of a suitable alternative.


TCV: The Conservation Volunteers Scotland

The TCV works with 628,000 volunteers a year. They offer volunteer opportunities and run a wide variety of training courses.


RSPB: RSPB Volunteering
We have over 16,000 fantastic volunteers and they come from all walks of life. Our volunteering roles can be tailored to your skills, interests and circumstances.

SWT: The Scottish Wildlife Trust host conservation volunteer work parties. See the Lanark Members Centre websitehttp://www.lanarkswt.org.uk/ or the SWT http://scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/how-you-can-help/volunteer/.


NTS: Offer environmental and built heritage volunteering opportunities. http://www.nts.org.uk/Volunteering/Find/


For more information contact South Lanarkshire Council’s Countryside and Greenspace Service on 01698 426213 or email CAG@Southlanarkshire.gov.uk">CAG@Southlanarkshire.gov.uk