James Borrell is a biodiversity scientist and science communicator researching how people and nature can adapt to environmental change.

The Conservation Guide (How to find honest volunteer project reviews)

So you want to get involved in conservation? Perhaps a little frustratingly, everyone so far has told you that the first thing you need to do is ‘get experience‘.

It’s difficult to get experience when you have absolutely zero experience.

Where do you start? What should you look for? I guess that is partly the gap I’m trying to address with this very website. As well as trying to get people interested in conservation in the first place (should places like this really be a tough sell?).

If in doubt, just do something. It’s always better to start somewhere and work out what you enjoy, then learn from it. I’ve created lots of resources over the years to try and help people find worthwhile project to get involved in.

So I’m very excited that Justin Lennon has gone and done a far better job than me and created The Conservation Guide. I spoke to him recently, and here’s what he had to say:

“I wanted to create a website which allowed for the complete transparency of conservation organisations, so prospective volunteers would have a clear idea of what they would be doing whilst on project. At present there are far to many organisations embellishing their conservation efforts on their website and are not being completely honest about the activities taking place in the field. TCG has been created to rectify this common issue”.

Justin has already been threatened with legal action by one particularly well known volunteering organisation, so I’d say he’s done a pretty excellent job. Here’s everything you need to know:

The Conservation Guide

The Conservation Guide (TCG) is a brand new website set up to help promote a greater worldwide conservation effort through increased professional and volunteer participation. TCG will provide an online forum of interaction, allowing for the exchange of expert advice and personal experiences to help guide the choices of prospective volunteers and early career conservationists.TCG’s aim is to create a platform where conservation organisations can compete for ‘popularity/ratings’ based on their environmental good practice, local community involvement and scientific effort, three criteria imperative to the efficient and sustainable running of a conservation project.

These criteria will be judged by volunteers who have taken part in these projects, allowing for a thorough and complete assessment of their view of the project. TCG hopes that this will allow for the complete transparency of an organisations online presence, giving future participants an insight into the day to day running of field projects based on former volunteer feedback. With this in mind, we hope that TCG will become a useful tool for prospective conservationists, allowing them to come to an educated decision on their project choice based on the insight provided by our organisation.

In the future we hope TCG will develop into a social networking website for field projects where users can create and grow a profile based on their contributions in the field. Volunteers and Professionals will be able to interact live on the site, helping to further the conservational efforts of projects around the world.

A few examples:

Operation Wallacea – Hoga Island Review

Blue Ventures – Belize Review

TGC is also on Facebook, so head over and help develop this resource.


About Justin:

TCG is the brainchild of Justin Lennon (founder), an experienced and committed conservationist. Justin graduated from the University of Nottingham with an MSci in Environmental Science and has since proceeded to gain experience in numerous conservation projects across the world including trips to Fiji, Madagascar, Tanzania, Costa Rica & Nicaragua. Justin’s academic interests lie predominantly in Marine Conservation and currently works as a Biologist for the National Marine Aquarium.