East Lothian Council

Volunteering in East Lothian

What can we, in the Countryside Section, offer you?

VolunteerBetween the countryside ranger team, the access officers, the biodiversity officer and myself - the countryside officer - we have a number of opportunities for volunteers to get involved with conservation-related work.

Group work or lone working? Potentially either, volunteers are like anyone else, some of us prefer the wild open spaces to ourselves; others prefer to mingle with like-minded folk. Both can be done.

Frequency of volunteering? Varies enormously on you and the group/s to which you are attached. On average volunteers come out 1-2 x per month across the board, though this is an average, some come out much more, others only occasionally. It is ok either way.

What work are you likely to be doing? Either practical conservation work or some sort of survey and recording work.

Where do we have volunteer groups, and when? We have several 'Friends of' groups tied to specific sites - e.g. Yellowcraig. Such groups meet on a set date or dates each month, it breaks down like this:


Key duties, notes                                 

Practical work?

Survey work?

When do they meet?

Key contact/s

Lone (L) or Group (G) working?

Friends of Aberlady Bay Local Nature Reserve

Sea buckthorn control; monitoring of grazing sheep (autumn/winter); species monitoring; monitoring of impacts of grazing upon plant diversity



First Wednesday each month and Sunday in the middle of each month, 9:30am to 3pm unless otherwise stated

John Harrison, Reserve warden, jharrison@eastlothian.gov.uk


G, L

Junior Rangers

Aimed at 11-18 year olds.



Every Second Friday during term-time 1.30pm - 4.30pm

Jen Edwards, Countryside ranger jedwards@eastlothian.gov.uk



Friends of Yellowcraig

Sea buckthorn control; pirri-pirri bur mapping and removal;



First Thursday each month, 9:30am -3pm

Dave Wild, Countryside ranger dwild@eastlothian.gov.uk


Friends of John Muir Country Park

Tern nesting fence, management thereof; vegetation management




Last Saturday of every month, 10am -2pm

Katy Green, coastal communities officer kgreen2@eastlothian.gov.uk ; Tara Sykes, Countryside ranger tsykes@eastlothian.gov.uk


North Berwick Conservation Volunteers

A variety of practical tasks including vegetation control, path maintenance, litter and wildlife monitoring at North Berwick Law, Glen and beaches




Sam Ranscombe, Countryside ranger, sranscombe@eastlothian.gov.uk



Dunbar Shore & Neighbourhood group

Independent group concerned with beach maintenance and the management of a Seaside Award beach



Regular checks of beach, especially during summer

Pippa Swan pippa.swan@yahoo.co.uk


Traprain Law

Checking of resident ponies (all year); ragwort control; monitoring of impacts of grazing upon plant diversity



Varied, mostly lone working

Duncan Priddle, Countryside officer dpriddle@eastlothian.gov.uk ; Laura Douglas, Countryside ranger ldouglas@eastlothian.gov.uk

L, G

Barns Ness

New requirement. Checking of sheep flock (November - February); monitoring of impacts of grazing upon plant diversity; gorse burning (autumn-winter)



Varied, lone working; group work to be planned for last Wednesday each month

Laura Douglas, Countryside ranger ldouglas@eastlothian.gov.uk


Path warden volunteers

Monitoring and maintenance of local paths; monthly opportunity to get together and tackle larger repair issues


Not really

Mostly lone working; wardens meet up for a group meeting once a month

Duncan Priddle, Countryside officer  dpriddle@eastlothian.gov.uk


Grassland and / or bumblebee surveyors

Regular surveys of both at (up to) 4 sites - Aberlady, Barns Ness, North Berwick Law and Traprain Law - to monitor impact of grazing animals upon the land.  (You don't have to do more than one site)


Yes - training given!

Bumblebees; fortnightly surveys in summer months

Grasses - one series of survey quadrats per site each year

Duncan Priddle, Countryside officer  dpriddle@eastlothian.gov.uk

L / in pairs

VolunteersProject ~ When operating?                      


Eider nest survey  ~ April - July
Volunteers take 1 hour slots to watch over the Eider colony and record breeding / disturbance signs
Contact: Sam Ranscombe, Countryside ranger sranscombe@eastlothian.gov.uk


Coastal people count survey ~ June - August
3 counts undertaken, once per month. Entire coast is subdivided and walked by volunteers who record set details
Contact: Bobby Anderson, Senior countryside ranger randerson@eastlothian.gov.uk


Goose distribution survey ~ October - January
Weekly surveys to count the different species of geese in East Lothian and their distribution
Contact: Stuart Macpherson, Biodiversity officer smacpherson@eastlothian.gov.uk

What sort of training could you get?

  • Induction - a chance to meet you all and make sure what we offer and what you want are the same thing
  • Safety - will be covered in all the tasks you undertake, tools talks and risk assessments are undertaken for all activities
  • Tools usage - how to use hand tools safely. Occasional use of some power tools will be on a needs basis and will always be optional
  • Species ID training - if undertaking some of our monitoring work, we'll ensure you are trained up to identify what it is you are monitoring!
  • Survey skills - along with identifying things, you'll need to know how to record and survey them. So we will assist
  • How to destroy stuff - all conservation work is really about destroying things, but you need to know how to do this effectively!
  • How to eat and drink in the great outdoors - hard work merits rewards, at least in biscuit and tea format. We'll train you in this for sure

What will we give you in return?

  • Our unequivocal thanks
  • Training - informally through the work you undertake. Hope to formalise in-house training opportunities for 2013
  • An annual get-together to say thanks and so you can meet other volunteers
  • Biscuits, copious amounts of; plus tea and coffee on occasion
  • Camaraderie, bonhomie - well, it all sounds much better in French!
  • Free exercise, fresh air, moisturiser (or is that rain?!)
  • References, should you wish and need them, for job applications etc.
  • Some travel expenses. Optional, some ask for these, others do not, but they are negotiable
  • Involvement in our projects. We're doing these pieces of work for the good of the planet, but we like your input too. Ideas on how to do things always appreciated
  • Occasional emails to inform you of some training course that may be of interest

BiscuitsWhat about all the admin side of stuff? Each countryside ranger / warden looks after their own group. I tend to arrange the larger events and hold the database of volunteers registered with us, so that I can email you all with any pertinent information - such as one-off volunteer activities.


John Muir House Haddington EH41 3HA

Telephone: 01620827459

John Muir House Haddington EH41 3HA

Telephone: 01620827459

East Lothian Council, John Muir House Brewery Park Haddington East Lothian EH41 3HA.