If you have been inspired to volunteer with us this week, this blog shares a unique opportunity with one of our amazing reserves in the North of Scotland.

Volunteer’s Week: The Flow Country

It's a national treasure made up of vast expanses of blanket bog, a rare type of peatland, and it's a vital defence against climate change. It's filled with amazing wildlife including birds and unique plants. The Flow Country in the north of Scotland is a special landscape that needs celebrating and looking after, and now it seems that more people are getting on board with this, reflected in the fact that the Flow Country has been proposed for a World Heritage Site. These are unique areas around the globe of specific environmental and heritage interest, for example The Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

The Flow Country has also been accepted on the World Heritage Volunteers Initiative (WHV) under the framework of the UNESCO World Heritage Education Programme – the only project in the UK to be chosen this year!

This initiative offers a residential opportunity, from 12th August – 23rd August 2019, for young people aged 16 to 25 from all over the world to come and experience this unique landscape for themselves and help contribute to the conservation of an area that is vital in the management of climate disruption.

The Flow Country covers 200,000 hectares and is the largest expanse of blanket bog in the world. This remarkable, wild habitat forms in cool places with plenty of rain, and the few plants that can grow here don’t rot away, but build up into deep layers of peat. The Flow Country’s bog has been growing for over 10,000 years, since the end of the last Ice Age, and the peat in some places is up to 10 metres deep. Although peatlands cover just 3 per cent of the world’s land area, they hold nearly 30 per cent of all terrestrial carbon.

Sitting within the Flow Country, RSPB Forsinard is the largest RSPB reserve in the UK. Parts of the Flow Country are now being restored by RSPB Scotland land managers and other organisations. This involves removing the forestry plantations, blocking drainage ditches and allowing the original water levels to return. This prevents the loss of carbon as carbon dioxide and encourages Sphagnum mosses to return and create new peat. Wading birds like golden plover, dunlin and greenshank can also return once the habitat conditions are right.

We recognise the importance of enabling young people to connect to nature and this voluntary opportunity offers a chance to learn hands-on conservation techniques in a unique and important environment. At the end of the stay, the young people will make a presentation about the potential world heritage site, and their experience of it, to a panel of conservation staff at Forsinard.


Have a look at the advert for the UNESCO programme here:

The final list of projects and project descriptions will be soon available on the UNESCO World Heritage Centre website at the following link https://whc.unesco.org/en/whvolunteers/ under WHV 2019.

For more information about the progress of the bid for World Heritage Site status check out this programme from STV:

If this opportunity has got your interest but you don't meet the criteria for it we do have other residential volunteering group placements, ideal for friends and families, at Forsinard Flows. More info here: https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/volunteering-fundraising/volunteer/volunteer-opportunities/opportunities/273/