Volunteering for the environment and sustainability

There are a great many ways you can volunteer for the environment from the local to international level. You can do hands on planting or participate in advocacy through media campaigns, protests, petitions and so on. Some volunteering may be focussed on single issues like preserving koala habitat while others may attempt fundamental change. Many provide some kind of upskilling to help volunteers fulfil different roles.

In Australia there are a great many climate action groups with varying levels of output which are generally focussed on a more policy-centred approach than the Transition Town groups.

National and state-level groups have had a longer history in Australia such as Greenpeace, the Australian Conservation Foundation, state-based affiliates, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). A valuable book providing historical insights into how these differ can be found in an out of print book, Politics and the Environment: the Australian Experience, by Elim Papadakis (1993).

More recently formed groups focussed on renewable energy and carbon, also have thousands of members. These include the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Solar Citizens, Householders Options to Protect the Environment (HOPE) based in Toowoomba, and Beyond Zero Emissions:

Conservation Volunteers is an award-winning group which provides hand-on volunteering opportunities. Many back-packers from overseas volunteer because of its international links.

Other hands-on groups include local catchment groups, Landcare groups (at the national, state and local level) and bushcare groups which vary depending on the level of support they attract from local governments and funding organisations.

Sustainable Population Australia is a non-racist, humane intellectual group with high profile patrons such as Ian Lowe and Tim Flannery. The group focusses on policy and pubic awareness approaches to issues relating to the dangerous exponential growth in human populations around the world, not just relating to Australia’s population. They have produced a great many submissions to policy development.

While no longer active, the international Transition Towns movement has helped hundreds of communities around the world to address climate change and peak oil issues through resilience-building. Different groups offer different emphasises but most pursue programs for relocalising their economies, improving skills in self-sufficiency (such as growing food) and much more. For an overview of the Transition Towns approach, check out the original Transition Handbook and case studies are presented in the film, Transition 1.0. For more about the film or to view the 50 minute film on Vimeo visit the Transition Network website. See Transition 2.0 film in full here: