Fight climate change as a recruit in BTCV's Carbon Army

Members of Camden Green Gym working to create a new kitchen garden at Lauderdale House in Camden
The British Trust for Conservation Volunteers has created a 'Carbon Army' with marching order for hands-on action during the Copenhagen summit

For fifty years, the British Trust for Conversation Volunteers (BTCV) has been connecting willing hands to environmental volunteer opportunities.

To mark the COP 15 conference (December 7 - 18, 2009) the organisation launched the Carbon Army - a network of events across the UK designed to mitigate CO2 emissions and combat climate change in a real and positive way. The goal is to match the 3,000 delegates attending the conference in Copenhagen with 3,000 days of action.

To logistically fit these days into the ten-day period of COP15, each volunteer's work represents one 'day'. So if twenty people plant trees to capture carbon in Sussex in the morning, and ten more are building a kitchen garden to reduce food miles in London that afternoon, thirty 'days' of action have been achieved.

Before heading to Copenhagen for the climate conference, the Carbon Army recruited Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, to plant trees in his constituency in South Yorkshire.

On his day of action, he contributed to the growth of an 80-acre community woodlot, made possible through the continual support of BTCV volunteers.

Hands on approach

The Carbon Army is BTCV's largest campaign in its history, but will only last the duration of the COP15 conference.

BTCV is certain that this campaign, combined with a push from Copenhagen, will build momentum to encourage volunteering in the environmental sector long after December 2009.

Volunteering with BTCV is a practical, fun and healthy way to improve our surrounding environments. Far from an abstract click of a button on a petition website, by getting involved you make a direct difference locally - by growing a community garden or managing a wetland habitat - and globally, by sequestering carbon and protecting endangered ecosystems.

What you could be doing...
Here are just a few examples of volunteer opportunities available across the UK:
• Clear rhododendrons from woodland in Dumfries, Scotland
• Improve biodiversity by working alongside park rangers in Leicester's Green Corridor
• Plant native scrub and trees in Regent's Park, London
• Take a horticulture certification course in Exeter
• Build a small wildlife garden in Derry, Northern Ireland
• Lay hedges and fences in Southeast Wales

How to get involved
Although the Carbon Army campaign only lasts for the duration of the COP15 conference in Copenhagen, BTCV will continue to offer numerous volunteer opportunities. Here's how to join:
• Click here for an interactive UK map. Choose your region and find a listing of local BTCV groups. Each group will have a website with upcoming volunteer opportunities.
• BTCV's award-winning Green Gyms offer a chance to get fit while learning a practical skill out-of-doors. Click here to find a Green Gym in your area.
• For a different sort of holiday, try a BTCV Conservation break. Conservation and management during the day is balanced with free time in the evening, all set against beautiful European landscapes. Click here for more information.
• If you're not able to volunteer, BTCV always gladly accepts monetary donations, to keep day-to-day activities and special projects like the Carbon Army going. Click here for more information.

Emma Bocking is a freelance journalist

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