Coastal Restoration Trust of New Zealand

Coastal Dune Ecosystem Reference Database

Volunteers Matter: The Geographies of Community-Based Ecological Restoration in the Wellington Region Thesis

Cowie, C.
Journal / Source
Unpublished Masters Thesis, University of Victoria, Wellington
Publisher / Organisation
School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington
Community-based ecological restoration, ecological restoration, community conservation, conservation volunteers, Take Care, coast care
The Community-based ecological restoration movement is a growing phenomenon here in New Zealand. While the role of volunteers and human agency is integral to ecological restoration; most academic attention has been paid to the science of ecological restoration and its practical applications. The scant amount of literature which examines the social worlds of community-based ecological restoration, both internationally and here in New Zealand, warrants further investigation of this topic. This study explores the Geographies of the community-based ecological restoration movement in the Wellington Region by investigating 1) what these groups are doing, 2) who these volunteers are and what draws them to this work, and 3) what keeps these volunteers coming back. This study found that the volunteers of these groups, motivated by a wide range of both social and environmental concerns, do a stunning amount of work for their group which would be completely unaffordable if done by anyone except dedicated volunteers. The members of these groups are generally older, with the time and money to be able to take on this kind of commitment. And while seeing the results of their hard work is a major motivating factor in returning to volunteer for the group again and again, volunteering in this sector is not always as altruistic as it may seem to bemused passers by; the vast majority of members have received a range of new skills and knowledges as well as a number of social benefits as a result of their membership to these groups. As New Zealand's population ages, the number of potential volunteers willing and able to do this work will increase significantly, posing implications for the agencies that currently fund and support these groups.