Nature volunteering

Melbourne naturalist volunteering (info journal)

This journal is intended just to share everything that I have learnt so far that may be of use to other people, to open up a world of opportunities, inspiration and knowledge for nature volunteering around Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Much of the information can be applied to other places too.



I found the waitinglist too long to volunteer as a Waterwatch monitor at my local creek, because of the increasing demographic changes due to increased sharehousing out in Reservoir. But, I attended a workshop and I signed up to the mailinglist to receive information on other volunteering opportunities. That's where I came across the Nature Stewards volunteering course.

It's as valuable to learn about the thousands of volunteering opportunites in cities, as it is to learn about how to be as effective and nondestructive as possible when working. Many initiatives fail, and funds are wasted on improper planning, lack of follow-through, and lack of consultation with indigenous groups and research. In the Nature Stewards course, for example, we were taught by Aboriginal elders, and important scientists and workers in conservation. I developed so many more dimensions of seeing my city, which has changed my approach to how I live here completely. The course was open-ended and factored in people's busy lives, though there were many rabbit holes to explore.

In this drastically changing physical, cultural and economic climate, it is crucial. I think absolutely everyone should be a citizen scientist. Anyone can be, and this blog will give you the basics anyhow.

Current statistics for 2019 show that if we, as a country, aim to meet our climate targets, the temperature will rise by 4 degrees by 2080. If we continue on the way we are currently, the temperature will rise by 8 degrees. Even if we do our absolute best and dedicate ourselves to the challenge, the temperature will have risen 2 degrees by 2080. I believe that as the challenges of the Anthropocene become obvious, everyone will start to engage more, and that society will transform expedentially. We just need to guide that process.

Working in nature feels good in and of itself though, and its a pleasure to work alongside awesome people. Humans throughout their entire existence on this planet, up until extremely recently, lived in mutual custodianship with the Earth and other living creatures. It is white ethnocentrism to simply assume human beings are inherently bad for nature and need to be kept separate and alien. Many people in inner city living and elsewhere are in a bubble of defensive narcissism. No matter how high we turn up our air conditioning, we will be emanating our own toxic psychological heat in order to insulate ourselves from both the harsher and more sensually integrated aspects of living.


Even if there doesn't appear to be parkland around you, you would be surprised how many places have active nature volunteering to keep ecologies afloat. The more sparse a place is, the more they need volunteers, especially funding and citizen science to help get that funding.

Even if there is no nature allocation at all, swales need to be built to collect stormwater run off, which helps to protect our wetlands before run off is even a problem. Swales are those larger plant beds between the road and the footpath, that are filled with indigenous plants and are especially made for stormwater to run into.

Use the iNaturalist app. This website is global, but also have an Australian part, and is active right down to your local streets. You can upload images of flora and fauna, and an AI identifies it. You can also participate in each specimen's official identification by giving a second or third opinion on an ID.

I will also include a list of other apps.

Another good way is to volunteer at your local indigenous plant nursery so you can learn the plants yourself. Online lists often aren't current or complete, and it's best to simply search for them in your area, as I was surprised what I found when I did a search.

Check in with the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria. They have a great library for native flora and fauna etc, and regular talks and field trips, as well as many different niche groups.

last update 25.12.19