Crayfish Survey Volunteers - The Culm Community Crayfish Project

Blackdown Hills AONB

Blackdown Hills, Devon

Volunteer • Part Time 07977402399 Sammy Fraser, Volunteer Coordinator

Sectors: conservation & wildlife

Closing date: Friday, 6th April 2018  

The Blackdown Hills are designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) for their landscape value, including their importance for wildlife, geology and culture.

In 2018 The Blackdown Hills AONB Partnership is running a new project focusing on the plight of the native white-clawed crayfish. A fragile population of this endangered species survives in the River Culm but is threatened by the spread of the American signal crayfish. Heritage Lottery Funding has been secured to gather more data and raise awareness.

The project provides a wealth of opportunities for local people to be inspired and take action; by becoming volunteer crayfish surveyors, carrying out practical river conservation tasks, and attending events to learn about the river and its wildlife. The project also aims to develop a long-term community-based programme to conserve the river and its native crayfish.

We are looking to recruit a team of Crayfish Survey Volunteers to work alongside James Maben (Culm Community Crayfish Project Manager) and Nicky Green (Crayfish Specialist) to support the projects survey work.

Survey volunteers will need to attend a survey training day  (24th March and 12th April) which will involve running through the theory of the surveys and then a practical session at the river - with the plan to start surveys in April and carry on right through the summer until the end of September.

What will this role involve and commitment required?

  • Surveys will take place most weeks and as a minimum fortnightly between mid-April and the end of September
  • We hope to be able to offer surveys on a mixture of weekdays, some evenings (mid-summer) and at weekends to allow as many people as possible to get involved.
  • Surveys using baited crayfish traps will require volunteer help on 2 consecutive days as traps need checking every 24hrs, probably (Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays).
  • As volunteers gain experience, small teams will undertake surveys independently on allocated stretches of river and in ponds (but support staff will always be on hand).
  • Please note: Some volunteers (but not everybody) will need to be comfortable with humanely dispatching signal crayfish once trapped as it is illegal to put them back. This is done by quickly cutting through the length of the crayfish ‘head’ with a sharp knife. Full training will be provided.
  • Not everyone needs to get into the river! We need ‘data recorders’ to stay on the bank and take notes and record data.
  • Don’t worry if you can’t commit to weekly/fortnightly – there will be options to join in when you can.
  • Volunteers will need to be able to walk up to 2 miles over rough terrain. Surveys involve walking in the river and climbing up and down banks, and often over fences and gates where unavoidable (if you have limited mobility then pond surveys will still give you an option to be involved)
  • Volunteers will be required to record volunteering hours and hand in survey forms/records to project staff after surveys.
  • We would also like volunteers to record evidence of other species found along the river like otters, birds, and invasive plant species (training will be provided).
  • Volunteers will need to be able to make their own way to survey sites or to the AONB office in Hemyock where onward transport can be provided.
  • Any interested volunteers would also be welcome to help with public events, school visits and other engagement activities.

What skills do you need?

We are looking for volunteers with some or all of the following skills:

  • An understanding of wildlife and river ecology and an ability to identify certain species of plants, trees and other species (BUT this isn’t essential and full training will be provided!!)
  • Ability to work safely in an outdoor setting - taking responsibility for your welfare
  • Good attention to detail and the ability to understand survey methods and accurately record data
  • Own transport or ability to get to AONB offices in Hemyock independently.
  • The ability to work as a team to ensure smooth and professional delivery of surveys
  • Confident working with a wide variety of people and ages

What’s in it for you?

  • Being part of an exciting project working with an internationally endangered species.
  • Experience working within the conservation sector with volunteers, members of staff and our AONB partners.
  • Full training is provided
  • Travel expenses reimbursed
  • Experience in wildlife surveys, recording and recording

As a volunteer for the Blackdown Hills AONB you will have the opportunity to be involved in other aspects of volunteering such a wildlife surveys, attending events, and being involved in other community engagement work. You will also gain knowledge about how AONBs work to conserve and enhance the landscape as well as invaluable work experience in the environmental sector. 

Please mention when responding to this ad.