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Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment

Authors:
Evaluating the impact of
environmental volunteering on
behaviours and attitudes to the
environment
Rachel Hine, Jo Peacock and Jules Pretty
Department of Biological Sciences,
University of Essex, Colchester
Report for BTCV Cymru
April 2008
1
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
Contents
Page
1. Key Findings 4
2. Background and context for research 10
2.1 The Role of BTCV
2.2 Context for the research
2.3 Purpose and aims of research
10
10
10
3. Methodology 12
3.1 Methodology
3.2 Sampling strategy
12
13
4. Results 14
4.1 Results
14
4.1.1 General population data and motivations
4.1.2 Connectedness to Nature
4.1.3 Environmental awareness and sense of environmental responsibility
4.1.4 Environmentally friendly behaviour
4.1.5 Qualitative responses
14
18
18
19
23
4.2 Relationships between volunteering for BTCV and environmental indicators 26
4.2.1 Relationships between environmental indicators
4.2.2 Relationship between length of time volunteering for BTCV and environmental
indicators
4.2.3 Relationship between number of times volunteering for BTCV and environmental
indicators
4.2.4 Relationship between frequency and regularity of volunteering fro BTCV and
environmental indicators
4.2.5 Direct comparison longitudinal study
4.2.6 Other relationships
26
27
30
31
32
34
5. Conclusions 38
5.1 Discussion of evidence
5.2 Conclusions
5.3 Recommendations for future research
38
41
42
6. References 44
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Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
BTCV Cymru, co-funded by the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) has commissioned
Rachel Hine, Jo Peacock and Professor Jules Pretty, lead researchers of the green exercise
programme at the University of Essex, to carry out research to investigate the impact of
environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment. This study
represents both the first and second phases of a two stage evaluation process. Two hundred
and fifty one BTCV Cymru volunteers took part in stage 1 of our research and 152 took part in
stage 2. Both the statistical findings and the qualitative narratives are included in this report.
Correspondence contact:
Rachel Hine, Assistant Director, Centre for Environment and Society, Department of Biological
Sciences, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester CO4 3SQ. rehine@essex.ac.uk
The Green Exercise team:
The cross-disciplinary University of Essex project team is made up of academics from the
Centre for Environment and Society and Centre for Sports and Exercise Sciences (both in
Department of Biological Sciences) and is led by Professor Jules Pretty. This team has been
leading research in the field of ‘green exercise’ since 2003 and is currently engaged in varied
primary research into the health benefits of ‘green exercise’ and ‘green care’ – investigating the
mental and physical health benefits of physical activities under exposure to different rural and
urban environments.
The Centre for Environment and Society is also a leading authority on the use of Participatory
Appraisal and Action Research methods to assess the needs and opinions of communities1. We
have developed innovative techniques that engage communities as active participants and this
approach encourages community ownership of outcomes so that they are self-sustaining in the
longer term.
Acknowledgements
The University of Essex and BTCV Cymru would like to thank all BTCV Cymru staff for their
assistance with the research published in this report. We are very grateful to all the BTCV
volunteers who completed the questionnaires and agreed to share details about their
experiences. We are also very grateful for the continuing support of the Countryside Council for
Wales (CCW) which enabled this research.
1 With over 20 years experience of participatory assessment we have worked with a wide variety of organisations and target groups
including work with countryside management projects, community groups, Healthcare Trusts, Housing Associations, Village
Appraisals, Healthy Living Centres, Health Needs Assessments, sex and relationship education, local authority planning and urban
regeneration both within the UK and internationally.
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Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
1. Key Findings
1.1 BTCV Cymru commissioned the University of Essex to carry out research to investigate
the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment.
The two stage evaluation process aimed both to obtain baseline data for a longitudinal
study and to provide stand-alone findings for a snapshot survey . The first stage of the
evaluation took place in summer 2006 and the second stage in late summer 2007. A
total of 403 volunteers (251 in phase 1 and 152 from phase 2) from 28 different BTCV
groups, took part in this research by completing the composite questionnaire. Of these
403 BTCV Cymru volunteers, 18 participants gave us their names in both surveys to
enable arepeated measures longitudinal comparison.
1.2 We developed a workable and practicable methodology specifically designed for this
research. The study has provided baseline information on the personal and
environmental outcomes of volunteering – principally whether volunteering with BTCV is
likely to lead to an increase in connectedness to nature, which then may lead to an
increase in both local and global environmental awareness and a change in behaviour to
incorporate ‘environmentally friendly’ practices into everyday life. We have worked on the
premise that in order to become more sustainable as a community (be that local or
global) there is a need to take responsibility as an individual first - “think global and act
local”. In addition this study also identifies key factors that motivate people to volunteer.
1.3 There was a
relatively even
gender mix in
the study with
56% men and
44% women
participating.
Nearly a third of
participants
were aged
between 21 and
30 years (30%)
and 42% were
aged between
31 and 50 years. Approximately half of the volunteers had been volunteering for less
than 6 months and half for over 6 months and the motivations for volunteering for BTCV
varied widely from an interest in conservation to a desire to meet people or to improve
their local community (Figure A).
Figure A. Reasons for volunteering with BTCV
0
20
40
60
80
100
M eet new
people
Learn new
skills
Get f it New leisure
act i vi t y
Improve my
co mmun it y
Inter est in
envi ro nment
/conservation
Ot her
Perc ent %
Note: totals add up to more than 100% as
participants w ere able to tick more than one
box
1.4 The phase 1 study highlighted the need to examine any changes in motivation from when
participants first started volunteering with BTCV to the current time, often several years
later. In the phase 2 study we also asked respondents to tell us why they continue to
volunteer with BTCV. In addition to the reasons given for starting out, the options of ‘It
makes me feel better’ and ‘Being outside in the fresh air’ were added. The 4 main
reasons for continuing to volunteer were given as: i) ‘learning skills’ (63% of participants),
ii) ‘the people’ (62%)’ iii) ‘being outside in the fresh air’ (58%) and iv) ‘an interest in the
environment or conservation’ (56%).
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Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
1.5 The motivations for volunteering with BTCV Cymru were very much in keeping with what
participants in the survey told us made volunteering ‘special’ for them. In total 287 ‘what
is special?’ comments were collated and although there was much variation and personal
insight, the comments fell into 6 key themes: i) natural capital benefits - helping the
environment / value of conservation (83 comments), ii) natural capital benefits - local
community (46 comments), iii) social capital benefits - meeting people (56), iv) education
benefits - learning new skills and knowledge (36), v) health benefits - exercise and fresh
air (12), vi) other comments – enjoyment, staff, outlooks etc (54 comments) (Box A).
Box A. What is special about being involved with BTCV Cymru?
- Examples of comments from respondents
“Gives me an interest in environmental issues and to learn more about things and places you would not otherwise”
“It keeps me occupied and I meet new people”
“Getting new skills and taking part in something bigger and more important”
“BTCV provide people with an understanding of the environment and some of the changes which need to take place in
order to assist in the conservation of our natural world"
“Good fun, nice crowd of people It's healthy, fresh air, good surroundings”
“It is nice to see people and the area grow and change for the better”
“The coming of people together for a good cause. it strengthens the community, getting everyone involved to
understand about conservation”
“Helping the community, meeting people, learning new skills and working outdoors”
“Everything you need - lots of fresh air and exercise, making new friends, meeting people and keeps you fit!”
“You see things from a different angle; personally I am becoming very conscious of the state of the planet. I myself
recycle as much as I can and my 2 young children know to do so too - you realise that people's actions affect the
planet”
“Making new friends”
“Provides an environment whereby volunteers can acquire new skills, become more aware of environmental issues
and allows them to meet new people”
“By doing my little bit of coppicing in Cardiff I was able to help in the wider world”
“The help and support BTCV give to community groups and how they contribute to sustainability - therefore it's special
to belong to an organisation that cares about the environment”
“It's very flexible and you can learn lots of new skills for free”
1.6 When the changes in motivation were examined in more detail in phase 2, we found that
more
participants
appreciated
the
importance
of the s
elemen
the meetin
up with
fellow
volunte
over time.
Increases
Figure B. Changes in motivations for volunteering over time
0
20
40
60
80
100
M eet peo ple Learn skills Get fit leisure activ ity Improv e
co mm unity
Int ere st in
enviro nment
Other
Percent %
Reason to
start
vo lunteering
Reason to
continue
vo lunteering
ocial
t,
g
ers
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Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
were also observed with ‘keeping fit and active’ and ‘improving my community’. Changes
in motivation between starting to volunteer and having volunteered for some time
suggest that participants appreciate new and different reasons for volunteering with
BTCV over time (Figure B).
1.7 This study examined whether there is a link between volunteering with BTCV, increases
in connectedness to nature, increases in both local and global environmental awareness,
a change in behaviour by incorporating ‘environmentally friendly’ practices into everyday
life and ultimately to advocate environmental protection. Results show that such a link
exists, and with an increase in connectedness to nature, there is an increase in
environmental awareness and responsibility and also an increase in environmentally
friendly practice. A volunteer who has a high connectedness to nature score is also likely
to have high environmental awareness and responsibility and is likely to be carrying out a
number of environmentally friendly practices.
1.8 Connection to nature is
considered to be an
important predictor of
ecological behaviour and
subjective well-being. The
connectedness to nature
scale (CNS) was used in
this study to assess
whether volunteering with
BTCV and being exposed t
nature increases an
individual’s sense of feeling connected to nature. Looking at the surveyed group as a
whole we found that BTCV volunteers were moderately connected to nature, as although
scores varied from 1.71 to the highest score of 5, the average score was 3.50(SD 0.58).
Connectedness to nature scores increased with length of time volunteering with BTCV
Cymru, and although these changes in the main study were not found to be statistically
significant, the increases in CNS scores observed in the 8 months between the repeated
measures study, were very significant. Frequency of volunteering significantly increased
the CNS scores and those participants who volunteered at least once a week were more
connected to nature than
those who volunteered l
than once a week.
Figure C. Changes in environmental factors over
length of time volunteering
3
3.2
3.4
3.6
3.8
4
4.2
Vo lunteering less t han a year Volunt eering over a year
CNS
A wareness
(normalised)
Behaviour
(normalised)
o
ess
1.9 The environmental
awareness and sense of
environmental
responsibility of the
volunteers was measured
by a specifically designed
set of 11 statements.
These statements referred
to environmental issues of
all scales starting with global environmental issues, UK or national issues, down to local
or individual issues. A total environmental awareness/responsibility score was calculated
which could be anywhere on the scale between the lowest score of 10 (indicating a low
awareness and sense of responsibility) to the highest score of 50 (indicating a high level
Figure D. Differences between environmental factors
in longitudinal comparison study
3
3.2
3.4
3.6
3.8
4
4.2
4.4
Time 1- Nov 2006 Time 2- June 2007
Mean score
CNS
Awarenes s
(normalised)
Behav iour
(normalised)
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Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
of responsibility and awareness). The BTCV volunteer population scores in this survey
ranged from the lowest of 23 to the highest of 50 with the average score being 39.28 (SD
5.88) which indicates a relatively high overall environmental awareness. Environmental
awareness was shown to significantly increase with the length of time participants
volunteered with BTCV (as shown in both the overall and repeated measures study) but
was not significantly affected by the frequency of volunteering.
1.10 Changes in environmental awareness scores between November 2006 and summer
2007 were examined in more detail and the biggest increases in environmental
awareness were observed at the local or individual responsibility level. This suggests that
BTCV volunteers in this longitudinal study are becoming more aware of the role that they
themselves can play in protecting the environment. At the UK level an increase in
awareness of the need to conserve UK biodiversity and an increase in concern for over
fishing in the North Sea were observed and at the global level the increase in awareness
scores were seen concerning climate change and global biodiversity. These results are
from a relatively small-scale longitudinal study and therefore it would be difficult to
generalise about the whole population of BTCV Cymru volunteers. However, it is
possible to draw some specific conclusions from this sample of volunteers and to
surmise that through learning about the environment and conservation as a result of
hands-on conservation work for BTCV, many volunteers have become more aware of
local and UK environmental issues and what they can do as an individual to help make a
difference.
1.11 The BTCV
volunteers were
also asked to
detail the level
and frequency of
certain
environmentally
friendly lifestyle
options and
practices,
measured by a
specifically
designed set of
14 questions.
These questions
referred to
practices of all
scales ranging
from no cost
options which are
easily achievable
by most people
such as recycling
glass, paper and
metal, turning
appliances off at
the socket etc; inexpensive options but which may be dependent on having garden or
outside space (e.g. composting waste, wildlife friendly gardening etc); to options which
Figure E. Environmentally friendly behaviour: Percentage of
participants who...
0 20406080100
Recycle glass, paper & metal
Compos t
Buy organic
Energy s aving light bulbs
Turn off pow er at the plug
Renew able pow er
Pref er to w alk etc
Environmentally f riendly cleaning
Turn off tap w hist brushing teeth
Show ers instead of baths
Collect rainwater
Water eff icient toilet
Food out for birds etc
Garden for w ildlife
Per c en t %
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Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
may require more effort or that have possible financial implications such as buying
organic food and switching to an electricity company who provides renewable power
(Figure E).
1.12 The top 3 environmentally friendly practices which participants stated that they carried
out ‘always’ were: Recycling (49% of respondents), turning off the tap whilst cleaning
teeth (46%) and taking showers instead of baths with 42% of respondents. The most
popular practices that were carried out ’most of the time’ were using energy saving light
bulbs (27%), turning off the power at the plug and preferring to walk or use public
transport rather than use a car (26% of volunteers). Both of these frequently carried out
categories featured options which are largely easy to do and low or zero cost. The
practice that stood out as being carried out less frequently, classed as ‘occasionally’, was
buying organic food at 44% of the participant population
1.13 In this survey volunteers were given the choice of 5 reasons for not adopting
environmentally practices (‘never really thought about it’, ‘no time’, ‘too much effort’; ‘too
costly’ or ‘other’). The most commonly cited reason for not carrying out these practices
was given as ‘never really having thought about it’, especially for i) using renewable
power companies (49%) ii) having a water efficient toilet (38%) and iii) collecting
rainwater (35%).
1.14 A total environmental behaviour score was calculated for each participant based on the
responses to the 14 questions. This total environmental behaviour score could be
anywhere on the scale between the lowest score of 0 (indicating no environmentally
friendly behaviour) to the highest score of 42 (indicating a high frequency of
environmentally friendly behaviour). The BTCV volunteer scores in this study scores
ranged right across the scale from the lowest of 0 to the highest of 42, with the average
score being 19.56 (SD 8.61) indicating a reasonable frequency of carrying out
environmentally friendly practices.
1.15 The adoption of environmentally friendly behaviour was shown to significantly increase
with the length of time participants volunteered with BTCV (as shown in both the overall
and repeated measures study) and was also significantly increased with a rise in the
frequency of volunteering.
1.16 The changes in environmental friendly practice scores in the small scale longitudinal
study were also examined in more detail to see which particular practices had seen an
increase over time. The 3 practices that saw the greatest increase in volunteer
participation were i) recycling glass, paper and metal (a 26% increase from 58% of the
volunteers to 84% of volunteers recycling); ii) having a water efficient toilet (22%
increase); and iii) turning off the power to appliances off at the plug (21% increase from
64% of volunteers to 85%). These are all the relatively easy and low-cost
environmentally friendly options, which support findings from the phase 1 study that
found that people are more likely to adopt environmentally friendly behaviours and
practices which are relatively easy and inexpensive to carry out.
1.17 This research also found that women volunteers had higher connectedness to nature and
awareness of environmental issues and displayed more environmentally friendly
behaviour than the male volunteers (Figure F). In addition, volunteers over 30 years of
age demonstrated slightly higher connectedness to nature and environmental awareness
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Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
and participated in more
environmentally friendly
practices than the younger
volunteers in this survey
(Figure G).
1.18 In short, the BTCV Cymru
research has indicated that
a positive relationship
exists between
connectedness to nature,
environmental behaviour
and adoption of environmentally friendly behaviours and that there is an increase in
these variables over time
and frequency of
volunteering with BTCV
Cymru. The results of the
direct longitudinal study
also supported this and
showed that the increase in
all 3 variables
(connectedness to nature,
environmental awareness
and environmentally
friendly behaviour) over
time is more pronounced, showing statistically significant results.
Figure F. Differences in environmental factors by
gender
3
3.2
3.4
3.6
3.8
4
4.2
Male Fe ma le
Mean scores
CNS
A wareness
(norm alised)
Behaviour
(norm alised)
Figure G. Environmental factors by age
3
3.2
3.4
3.6
3.8
4
4.2
under 30 yrs ov er 30 yrs
CNS
Awareness
(norm alised)
Behaviour
(norm alised)
1.19 This study suggests that participating in conservation volunteering activities not only
reconnects people to nature but also positively influences the environmental attitudes
and behaviours of individuals, due to a range of motivators which provide the catalyst for
change. The initial motivations for volunteering have been shown to change over time as
individuals become more connected to nature, their environment and their fellow
volunteers. The ethos of “think global, act local” comes into play as people start to make
small changes to their nearby nature, whilst increasing their global awareness and
conscience. This often leads to a desire to spend more time in greenspaces, to care
more about their environment and to work to conserve and protect it against any potential
threats. Participating in conservation activities also enhances both physical health and
psychological well-being as a secondary consequence of behavioural changes, which in
turn encourages people to participate more frequently, thus continuing the cyclical
process.
1.20 Therefore, conservation activities such as those facilitated by BTCV Cymru generate
substantial environmental, social, and physical and mental health benefits, indicating the
potential not only for environmental conservation but also for a wider health and well-
being dividend. Green space rich in biodiversity provides the ideal opportunity for outdoor
recreation and acts as a valuable health resource for its users. The concept of green
exercise group activities, such as conservation volunteering and ‘Green Gyms’, therefore
has important implications for public and environmental health, and for a wide range of
policy sectors.
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Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
2. Background and context for research
2.1 The Role of BTCV
The British Trust of Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) was established in 1959 to encourage
people to take practical action to look after the environment, and this remains the key value to
this day. BTCV wants to inspire people to i) value the environment, ii) take action to protect and
improve it and to iii) live in a more sustainable manner, thus affecting global change through
local action.
Today BTCV Cymru operates a number of different models of conservation volunteering across
Wales with approximately 25,000 individuals participating each year. Volunteers can take part in
community projects, environment and conservation projects, Green Gyms, BTCV holidays,
training and corporate events and all of these models use different methods to engage and
educate. Volunteers may have very different starting points in terms of their knowledge of and
attitudes about the environment ranging from the complete novice to the seasoned enthusiast.
In fact, what is meant by the term “environment” can also mean very different things to different
people, ranging from the natural environment to the built environment, or in scale from wider
global issues down to immediate local issues. BTCV has responded to the variety in volunteer
attitudes by developing such a range of volunteering opportunities.
2.2 Context for the research
In the current funding climate, it is becoming increasingly important for organisations to prove
the benefit and impact of their work. However, organisations such as BTCV are aware of the
fact that although their work is long term in nature (changing people’s perceptions and actions
takes time), available funding streams in contrast, work on much shorter timescales.
Sustainable development depends upon individuals valuing the environment and adapting their
actions to minimise their impact or to make positive improvements to the environment around
them. In order to continue to demonstrate the contribution to all aspects of sustainable
development, there was a need to look at the key impacts of the work of BTCV, including:
How people value the environment.
The personal benefits of environmental activity.
The environmental benefits of volunteering.
How people’s attitudes and behaviours change in response to their environmental
volunteering experiences.
2.3 Purpose and aims of research
BTCV Cymru want to establish a methodology to assess the impact of environmental
volunteering on people’s behaviour and attitudes towards the environment, and are keen that
developing such a methodology will allow them to build on existing anecdotal evidence by
providing robust, quantitative evidence of change. BTCV are also keen to establish the
motivators that are the catalyst for change. With this in mind, the aims of this research include:
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Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
To develop a methodology to assess the impact of environmental volunteering on
people’s environmental attitudes and behaviours.
To undertake a baseline survey of current attitudes and behaviours within BTCV
volunteers.
To provide information, over time, on the personal and environmental outcomes of
volunteering – principally how involvement in volunteering changes people’s attitude to
the environment, how they value it and any subsequent changes in behaviour that occur
directly as a result of their volunteering.
To identify key factors which motivate people to make changes to their environmental
behaviour.
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Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
3. Methodology
3.1 Methodology
For this evaluation, the University of Essex developed a methodology to assess the impact of
environmental volunteering on people’s environmental attitudes and behaviours. This included a
baseline survey of current attitudes and behaviours within BTCV volunteers and a smaller scale
longitudinal element of research to allow direct comparisons over the timescale of the research
project. The methodology is workable and practicable and has been specifically designed to be
relevant to the range of volunteering models at BTCV Cymru.
The methodology has been designed to provide information, over time, on the personal and
environmental outcomes of volunteering – principally how involvement in volunteering changes
people’s attitude to the environment, how they value it and any subsequent changes in
behaviour that occur directly as a result of their volunteering. In addition it also includes a
process for identifying key factors that motivate people to make changes to their environmental
behaviour, however small.
The principle evaluation tool in the BTCV Cymru survey is a composite questionnaire designed
to address various key factors of environmental behaviour and awareness. The questionnaire
has been designed to be used in the baseline study and then again at defined regular intervals
to provide a longitudinal dimension to the research. The research examines whether
volunteering with BTCV is likely to lead to an increase in connectedness to nature, which then
may lead to an increase in both local and global environmental awareness, a change in
behaviour to incorporate ‘environmentally friendly’ practices into everyday life and ultimately to
advocate environmental protection. The methodology works on the premise that in order to
become more sustainable as a community (be that local or global) there is a need to take
responsibility as an individual first - “think global and act local”.
The BTCV Environmental behaviour evaluation questionnaire includes:
Questions to determine i) basic demographic information, ii) length of time volunteering
with BTCV Cymru, iii) type of volunteering model and iv) initial motivation for
Indicators of Social Capital (volunteer membership of environmental groups or
organisations)
Environmental awareness indicators (local, national and international)
Environmental behaviour indicators for sustainability (based on elements of the UK
Sustainable Development Strategy Framework indicators2)
Standardised, well-recognised instruments such as the Connectedness to Nature Scale3
Qualitative narrative responses
2 To support the UK Government Sustainable Development Strategy there is a suite of 68 national sustainable development
indicators. These include 20 UK Framework Indicators, which are shared by the UK Government and the devolved administrations in
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The remaining 48 indicators in the strategy highlight additional priorities relevant to the UK
Government Strategy and fall into one or more of the four priority areas: i) Sustainable consumption and production; ii)Climate
change and energy; iii) Natural resource protection and enhancing the environment; and iv) Creating sustainable communities and a
fairer world. Defra 2008.
3 The connectedness to nature scale is a new measure of individuals’ trait levels of feeling emotionally connected to the natural
world3. Connection to nature is considered to be an important predictor of ecological behaviour and subjective well-being. The scale
is used in this context to assess whether volunteering with BTCV and being exposed to nature increases an individual’s sense of
feeling connected to nature. Mayer and McPherson Frantz 2004
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Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
Participants taking part in the research were also given the option of providing their names to
allow for the longitudinal aspect of the study, that is, to be surveyed in the second stage of
research in order to examine changes in behaviours and motivations over time.
3.2 Sampling strategy
Phase 1.
The first part of the study represents the first stage of a longitudinal research project and
has been designed to gather baseline information in order to compare the responses of
subsequent studies over time. This study was also used as a pilot for the questionnaire
to allow for any adaptation and alterations to the evaluation tool deemed necessary after
stage one of the research.
The minimum sample size for the first research stages was 200 volunteers, although a
smaller sub-sample of volunteers is expected in subsequent studies
All types of BTCV volunteering options were included in the evaluation (Green Gyms,
Community projects, local days out etc.)
BTCV Cymru staff were first given training and practical advice in research methods and
questionnaire protocol by the University of Essex staff to ensure sampling coherence.
BTCV staff from all BTCV Cymru regions then administered the questionnaires to
participants during volunteer sessions and all completed questionnaires were then
returned to the University of Essex for analysis.
Phase 2.
The second part of the study represents the second stage of the smaller scale
longitudinal research project and contributes to the baseline information. Alterations were
made to the evaluation tool as based on the results of the pilot questionnaire.
As with phase 1 of the research, for phase 2 BTCV Cymru staff from all BTCV Cymru
regions, over a range of different volunteering contexts, administered the questionnaires
to participants during volunteer sessions and again all completed questionnaires were
then returned to the University of Essex for analysis.
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Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
4. Results
4.1 Results
The two stage evaluation process aimed both to obtain baseline data for a longitudinal study and
to provide stand-alone findings for a snapshot survey . The first stage of the evaluation took
place in summer 2006 and the second stage in late summer 2007. A total of 403 volunteers
(251 in phase 1 and 152 from phase 2) from 28 different BTCV groups, took part in this research
by completing the composite questionnaire. Of these 403 BTCV Cymru volunteers, 18
participants gave us their names in both surveys to enable a direct longitudinal comparison.
4.1.1 General population data and motivations
There was a relatively
even gender mix in the
study with 56% men and
44% women
participating. Nearly a
third of participants were
aged between 21 and 30
years (30%) and 42%
were aged between 31
and 50 years (age of
participants can be seen
in Figure 1).
Figure 1. Age of participants
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
<10 yrs 11-20
yrs
21-30
yrs
31-40
yrs
41-50
yrs
51-60
yrs
61-70
yrs
71-80
yrs
>80 yrs
Number of participants
Respondents were then
asked about their main activity. Approximately half (49%) replied that were working, 17% were
not working and 11% were either working voluntarily or as carers. The main activity of volunteers
is shown in Figure 2
Figure 2. Main activity of BTCV participants
Working
49%
Not w o r king
17%
Houseperson
4%
Ret i r ed
5%
Student/ School
8%
Sick/ disabled
6%
Carer/ voluntary
11%
The majority of
volunteers were
participating in either
environmental
conservation projects
(57%) or community
projects (37%) and 21%
were attending Green
Gyms. Examples of
‘other’ projects that
volunteers were
attending included the
‘Environmentors’ group,
corporate ‘away days’, o
volunteering as part of
an alternative cur
in schools or ‘New Deal’.
r
riculum
14
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
Figure 3 shows the types
pants.
olunteers were also
d
f
een
phase 1 of the research we also asked volunteers how many times they had volunteered for
s this question had
tage 2 of
ts
ers
e
en.
of
r
d
he motivations for
ring
ith BTCV Cymru because they wanted to learn new skills; 45% volunteered due to
Figure 3. Type of BTCV project attended
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
Enviro nment /
co nserv atio n
pro ject
Community
projec t
Training ev ent Green Gym BT CV
Ho liday
Other
Percent %
Note: totals add up to more than 100% as
participants w ere able to tick more than one
box
of BTCV projects
attended by partici
V
asked how long they ha
been volunteering with
BTCV Cymru and 49% o
had been involved with
BTCV for 6 months or
less; 16% had been
volunteering for betw
6-12 months and 35% for
over a year.
In
BTCV Cymru (35% of participants had volunteered over 20 times for BTCV, 27% had been out
2-5 times and 24% had been out only once).
A
Figure 4. How long volunteering for BTCV Cymru
0
20
40
60
80
100
<1 month
2-6 months
6-12 months
1-2 years
2-3 years
3-4 years
4-5 years
5 years
other
Length of time
Percent %
proved slightly
ambiguous, in s
the research we refined
the questionnaire and
instead asked how
frequently participan
volunteered. The
majority of volunte
(66%) attend at least
once a week, 10% onc
a fortnight or once a
month and 24%
volunteer less oft
More details of length
time participants have
been volunteering and
frequently they voluntee
with BTCV Cymru can
be seen in Figures 4 an
5 respectively.
Figure 5. Frequency of volunteering with BTCV
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
3-4 times
a w eek
2 times a
w eek
once a
w eek
once a
fortnight
once a
month
once
every 6
months
once a
year or
less
Percent %
T
participants voluntee
for BTCV varied widely.
Participants were given
the choice of 6 possible
motivations or a chance
to tell us themselves. A
half of respondents
(50%) started
volunteering w
15
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
an interest in
the environm
and
conservation;
and 41%
volunt
order to mee
new peopl
to improve thei
local
comm
Figure 6 shows
the reason
given for
volunteering
with BTCV
Cymru and Box 1 highlights some of the other reasons for volunteering given by the particip
ent
eered in
t
e and
r
unities.
s
ants.
Figure 6. Reasons for volunteering with BTCV
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
M eet new
people
Learn new
skills
Get fit New leisure
activity
Im pro ve my
community
Int ere st in
enviro nment
/conservation
Other
Percent %
Note: totals add up to more than 100% as
participants w ere able to tick mor e than one box
Box 1. Other reasons given for volunteering with BTCV Cymru
“to gain firs
“to share skills and experience”
-over”
sent by the courts”
t”
ools in community”
user but I enjoy being involved”
ething worthwhile”
eas of the UK and to feel that I'm doing something worthwhile”
t hand experience of working within a charitable organisation”
“to get work experience”
“my girlfriend won a garden make
“I did not volunteer I was
“To work together on a community projec
“To develop environmental awareness in sch
“I’m attending to provide support for service
“As part of my treatment for occupational therapy”
“Part of Gold Duke of Edinburgh award”
“Experience of community work”
“Team building opportunity and achieve som
“To enjoy the outdoors, see new ar
“To rehabilitate”
“To have fun”
he phase 1 study
ighlighted the need
first
In
e
T
h
to examine any
changes in motivation
from when
participants
started volunteering
with BTCV to the
current time, often
many years later.
the phase 2 study w
also asked
respondents to tell us
16
Figure 7. Reasons for continuing to volunteer for BTCV
0 20406080100
Percent %
The people
Learning new skills
To keep fit
A go od lei sure act ivity
Outs ide in fr esh air
makes me feel better
Improve my community
Interest in enviro nment / conservat ion
Other
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
why they continue to volunteer with BTCV. In addition to the reasons given for starting out, the
options of ‘It makes me feel better’ and ‘Being outside in the fresh air’ were added. The 4 main
reasons for continuing to volunteer were given as: i) ‘learning skills’ (63% of participants), ii) ‘the
people’ (62%)’ iii) ‘being outside in the fresh air’ (58%) and iv) ‘an interest in the environment or
conservation’ (56%). The full results regarding motivations for continuance of volunteering with
BTCV Cymru are shown in Figure 7.
The phase 2 study also examined the changes in motivation in more detail and found that more
participants appreciated the importance of the social element, the meeting up with fellow
volunteers over time. Increases were also observed with ‘keeping fit and active’ and ‘improving
my community’ (see Figure 8). Changes in motivation between starting to volunteer and having
volunteered for some time suggest that participants appreciate new and different reasons for
volunteering with BTCV over time.
Figure 8. Changes in motivations for volunteering over time
0
20
40
60
80
100
Meet people Learn skills Get fit leisure activity Impr ove
c ommu n it y
Int e r es t in
environment
Othe r
Percent %
Rea s on t o
start
volunteering
Rea s on t o
continue
volunteering
To examine social
capital issues through
involvement with other
environmental groups or
organisations,
participants were also
asked if they were a
member of various
environmental groups.
These range from local
groups such as local
Wildlife Trusts and
BTCV, national groups
such as RSPB and The
National Trust and
international
organisations such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and WWF. Results can be seen in
Figure 9.
Fi
g
ure 9. Social capital - Membership of environmental
groups and organisations
0
20
40
60
80
100
Percent of par ticipants
N ot e: to t als add u p to m or e th an 100% as par tic ipa nts
were abl e to ti ck mo re t han on e bo
x
17
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
4.1.2 Connectedness to Nature
The connectedness to nature scale is a new measure of individuals’ trait levels of feeling
emotionally connected to the natural world4. Connection to nature is considered to be an
important predictor of ecological behaviour and subjective well-being. The connectedness to
nature scale was used in this study to assess whether volunteering with BTCV and being
exposed to nature increases an individual’s sense of feeling connected to nature. The maximum
possible score on this scale, which indicates the most connectedness to nature, is 5 and the
lowest possible score, depicting the least connectedness to nature is 1. For the whole population
of this study, the lowest score was 1.71 and the highest score was 5.00, with an average score
of 3.50(SD 0.58). Looking at the group as a whole it can be concluded that volunteers are
moderately connected to nature.
Further analysis showing the correlation between connectedness to nature and other variables
is illustrated in section 4.2.
4.1.3 Environmental awareness and sense of environmental responsibility
The environmental awareness and sense of environmental responsibility of the volunteers was
measured by a specifically designed set of 11 statements. These statements referred to
environmental issues of all scales starting with global environmental issues, UK or national
issues, down to local or individual issues (see Table 1). Participants could answer on a 5-point
scale ranging from strongly agree; agree; neutral; disagree or strongly disagree. For each
statement a score of between 1 and 5 was awarded depending on response to statement (i.e.
strongly agree = 5, strongly disagree = 1 or vice versa depending on statement bias). In addition
a total awareness or responsibility score was calculated for each participant based on the
responses to 10 out of the 11 questions. This awareness/responsibility score could be anywhere
on the scale between the lowest score of 10 (indicating a low awareness and sense of
responsibility) to the highest score of 50 (indicating a high level of responsibility and awareness).
The BTCV volunteer population scores ranged from the lowest of 23 to the highest of 50 with the
average score being 39.28 (SD 5.88) which indicates a relatively high overall environmental
awareness.
Of all of the global scale statements, statement 1 (Climate change is one of the world’s major
environmental problems) achieved the highest positive responses, as 88% of respondents
answered that they either strongly agreed or agreed with the statement. Statements 2 and 4
both achieved high responses of between 70% and 75% of the population. However statement 3
(I believe that environmental problems are less important than economic problems) was the
most contentious because although just over half (57%) of the respondents disagreed and
scored a 5 or a 4, the other half of the volunteers agreed or had no opinion.
Of all the 2 national/UK scale statements, statement 7 received the highest scores as 88% of the
volunteers felt that “we should be doing more to prevent loss of rare species of plants and
animals in the UK”, whereas worries about over-fishing in the North Sea received lower scores
with 59% of volunteers agreeing with the statement. On the local and individual level, statement
8 scored highest with 79% of participants in disagreement with the statement and for statement
10, 76% of volunteers said they were willing to change their lives to a more environmentally
sustainable way of living.
4 Mayer and McPherson Frantz 2004
18
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
Table 1. Environmental awareness/ sense of environmental responsibility
Level or
reasoning
Statements about environmental issues
Responses
1. Climate change is one of the world’s major environmental
problems 88% strongly agreed/
agreed
2. Maintaining biodiversity is one of the main environmental
challenges of the century 72% strongly agreed/
agreed
3. I believe that environmental problems are less important
than economic problems 57% strongly
disagreed/ disagreed
4. Destruction of the world's rainforests does not affect me 75% strongly
disagreed/ disagreed
Global
awareness
5. I can do nothing to prevent global warming 69% strongly
disagreed/ disagreed
6. I am worried about over-fishing in the North Sea 59% strongly agreed/
agreed
National/ UK
awareness
7. I think we should be doing more to prevent loss of rare
species of plants and animals in the UK 88% strongly agreed/
agreed
8. Protecting the environment is not my responsibility 79% strongly
disagreed/ disagreed
9. I would be willing to pay money for environmental
cleanup or conservation programs in my area 49% strongly agreed/
agreed
Local/
individual
awareness
10. I am willing to change my life to a more environmentally
sustainable way of living 76% strongly agreed/
agreed
Perceptions of
solutions
11. Donating money is the only way people can help solve
environmental problems 69% strongly
disagreed/ disagreed
Further analysis showing the correlation between environmental awareness / sense of
environmental responsibility and other variables is illustrated in section 4.2.
4.1.4 Environmentally friendly behaviour
The BTCV volunteers were also asked to detail the level and frequency of certain
environmentally friendly lifestyle options and practices, measured by a specifically designed set
of 14 questions. These questions referred to practices of all scales ranging from no cost options
which are easily achievable by most people such as recycling glass, paper and metal, turning
appliances off at the socket etc; inexpensive options but which may be dependent on having
garden or outside space (e.g. composting waste, wildlife friendly gardening etc); to options
which may require more effort or that have possible financial implications such as buying organic
food and switching to an electricity company who provides renewable power.
Figure 10 shows the percentage of volunteers who answered yes to carrying out the various
environmentally friendly practices. Of all the environmentally friendly practices recycling was the
most popular being carried out by 88% of BTCV volunteers. Turning off power at the plug and
preferring to walk rather than using the car were also carried out by 84% of respondents and
using energy saving light bulbs (83%) and taking showers rather than baths (80%) were also
19
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
highest scoring practices. The practice carried out least by only 25% of participants was using
an electricity company who provides renewable power.
Fi
g
ure 10. Environmentall
y
friendl
y
behaviour: Percenta
g
e of participants
who...
0 102030405060708090100
Recycle glass, paper & metal
Compos t
Buy organic
Energy s aving light bulbs
Turn off pow er at the plug
Renew able pow er
Pref er to w alk etc
Environmentally f riendly c leaning
Turn off tap w hist brushing teeth
Show ers instead of baths
Collect rainw ater
Water efficient toilet
Food out for birds etc
Garden for w ildlife
Percent %
The questionnaire was designed so that participants could tell us how frequently they carried out
these practices (choosing from: ‘always’, ‘most of the time’ and ‘occasionally’) or the reason why
they did not carry out these practices (choosing from: ‘never really thought about it’, ‘no time’,
‘too much effort’, ‘too costly’ or ‘other’). Scores were given for frequency for each practice with
“yes, always” scoring 3, “yes, most of the time” scoring 2 and “yes, occasionally” scoring 1.
There was no score given if volunteers did not carry out the practice. In addition a total
environmental behaviour score was calculated for each participant based on the responses to
the 14 questions. This total environmental behaviour score could be anywhere on the scale
between the lowest score of 0 (indicating no environmentally friendly behaviour) to the highest
score of 42 (indicating a high frequency of environmentally friendly behaviour).
Total environmental behaviour score
The BTCV volunteer population scores ranged right across the scale from the lowest of 0 to the
highest of 42, with the average score being 19.56 (SD 8.61) indicating a reasonable frequency
of carrying out environmentally friendly practices.
Frequency
The top 3 environmentally friendly practices which participants stated that they carried out
‘always’ were: Recycling (49% of respondents), turning off the tap whilst cleaning teeth (46%)
20
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
and taking showers instead of baths with 42% of respondents. The most popular practices that
were carried out ’most of the time’ were using energy saving light bulbs (27%), turning off the
power at the plug and preferring to walk or use public transport rather than use a car (26% of
volunteers). Both of these frequently carried out categories featured options which are largely
easy to do and low or zero cost. The practice that stood out as being carried out less frequently,
classed as ‘occasionally’, was buying organic food at 44% of the participant population (see
Table 2 for full details).
Table 2. Responses to questions relating to environmentally friendly practices
Ease of
achievement
Environmentally friendly behaviours
Responses to questions
(percent %)
Yes
No
always
most of the time
occasionally
not thought about it
no time
too much effort
too costly
other
Recycle glass, paper & metal 49 24 15 7 1 1 1 2
Turn off power at the plug on appliances
when not in use
40 26 18 10 2 1 1 2
Prefer to walk, cycle or use public
transport rather than drive short distances
37 26 22 5 6 1 1 3
Turn off tap whist brushing teeth
46 16 15 14 1 3 1 4
Take showers instead of baths
42 24 15 8 1 1 2 7
No cost, easily
achievable by
most people
Have a water efficient toilet at home (e.g.
half flush option, brick in the cistern etc)
29 7 6 38 3 2 4 12
Collect rainwater in butts
19 8 11 35 6 3 4 16
Compost organic waste
24 17 20 20 5 2 1 12
Put food out for birds / hedgehogs / foxes
etc
34 14 26 13 2 1 1 9
Inexpensive but
dependent on
having garden or
outside space
Make your garden attractive to wildlife
36 15 18 16 3 2 0 10
Buy organic food
7 13 44 11 1 1 17 6
Use energy saving light bulbs
36 27 19 10 1 1 1 5
Use environmentally friendly cleaning
products (E.g. Ecover or vinegar)
14 16 26 27 2 2 5 7
Possible financial
implications and
may require more
effort
Use an electricity company who provides
renewable power
12 5 8 49 3 1 10 12
21
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
Reasons for not adopting environmentally friendly practices
In this survey volunteers were given the choice of 5 reasons for not adopting environmentally
practices (‘never really thought about it’, ‘no time’, ‘too much effort’; ‘too costly’ or ‘other’). The
most commonly cited reason for not carrying out these practices was given as ‘never really
having thought about it’, especially for i) using renewable power companies (49%) ii) having a
water efficient toilet (38%) and iii) collecting rainwater (35%).
All the other reasons for not carrying out the various practices were not as commonly cited as
‘not having really thought about it’ and ‘no time’ and ‘too much effort’ in particular did not really
feature at all. Only two practices, buying organic food (17%) and switching to a company who
supplies renewable power (10%), were considered ‘too costly’ to carry out. Finally the ‘no, other’
category was mainly referred to by participants without gardens relating to the practices which
require access to some kind of outside space. Again full details are shown in Table 2.
Further analysis showing the correlation between environmentally friendly practices and other
variables is illustrated in section 4.2.
22
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
4.1.5 Qualitative responses
Participants in this study were given the opportunity to tell us what they thought was special
about their involvement with BTCV Cymru. In total 287 comments were collated and although
there was much variation and personal insight, the comments have been divided into 6 key
themes:
Key Theme
Number of
comments
1. Natural capital benefits - helping the environment / value of conservation 83
2. Natural capital benefits - local community 46
3. Social capital benefits - meeting people 56
4. Education benefits - learning new skills and knowledge 36
5. Health benefits - exercise and fresh air 12
6. Other comments – enjoyment, staff, outlooks etc 54
Examples of comments from BTCV volunteers on each of these themes are shown in Boxes 2-8.
For key theme 1: “Natural capital benefits - helping the environment / value of conservation”
volunteers mainly highlighted the environmental benefits that volunteering for BTCV provides
(see Box 2.)
Box 2. What is special about being involved with BTCV Cymru?
Key theme 1: Natural capital benefits - helping the environment / value of conservation
“To encourage children to appreciate and respect their environment”
“The work that BTCV are involved with helps communities individuals and hopefully the government to think about our
environment”
“Helping to get the message across about the importance of conservation”
“BTCV provide people with an understanding of the environment and some of the changes which need to take place in order
to assist in the conservation of our natural world"
“Gives me an interest in environmental issues and to learn more about things and places you would not otherwise”
“I like working with BTCV because it is helping the environment”
“Being involved with BTCV Cymru and other organisational groups is a way in which ordinary people can help solve some
environmental problems without donating large amounts of money and time - a valuable resource”
“Working with people who are committed to protecting and maintaining the natural environment”
“I'm helping the environment”
“Friendly bunch of people working hard to play their part in educating people, working with nature, improving the environment
whilst conserving it”
“BTCV are people who really care about the environment, birds and the planet etc”
“By doing my little bit of coppicing in Cardiff I was able to help in the wider world”
“Improving Wales”
“It helps to give something back to the countryside which I enjoy”
“Being able to contribute to the conservation of the environment and encourage children to become interested”
23
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
Box 3. What is special about being involved with BTCV Cymru?
Key theme 2: Natural capital benefits - local community
“working with other members of the community to create a better environment”
“It is nice to see people and the area grow and change for the better”
“BTCV is a worthwhile job involving the local community - helps to improve local community areas”
“Working with the community IN the community”
“It's an opportunity to improve the community and make links with other residents”
“Opportunity to make a difference to my own environment - think global act local”
“Opportunity to improve my community”
“Making a happy community”
“Working with like-minded people helps me stay focused to help bring about local change in attitudes”
“Protecting the environment and looking after my community”
“The coming of people together for a good cause. it strengthens the community, getting everyone involved to understand
about conservation”
“The chance to make my community more environmentally aware so we can learn and share the environment”
“The chance to give something back to the community for people to enjoy”
“Meeting people and to get to improve our community”
“I feel I am doing a small bit to help our planet even though it is only in our own area”
“Make people more aware of local environment issues”
Box 4. What is special about being involved with BTCV Cymru?
Key theme 3: Social capital benefits - meeting people
“Meeting new people and enjoying yourself”
“Making new friends and improving the environment at the same time”
“Provides an environment whereby volunteers can acquire new skills, become more aware of environmental issues and
allows them to meet new people”
“Working with other people”
“Meeting good people and doing good work”
“Helping the environment, meeting people, getting out in the country”
“It's quite socially focused and the volunteers are from different backgrounds”
“Environmental improvements and meeting like-minded people”
“Meeting people and being active whilst making a small difference to the environment”
“Helping the community, meeting people, learning new skills and working outdoors”
“It keeps me occupied and I meet new people”
“Working with people improving places”
“Making new friends”
“Meeting people while partaking in environmental/ conservation friendly work”
“Meeting people and sharing and caring about our world”
“Meeting people, environmental focus”
“I see my friends and meet new people”
24
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
For key theme 2: “Natural capital benefits - local community” comments both identified the
benefits to local communities from the work of BTCV, and the personal benefits of higher
involvement with the local community for the volunteer. Examples of these comments these can
be seen in Box 3.
Box 5. What is special about being involved with BTCV Cymru?
Key Theme 4: Education benefits - learning new skills and knowledge
“Opportunity to share and exchange knowledge”
“Potential for local action on conservation and for skilling-up potential labour force”
“It's very flexible and you can learn lots of new skills for free”
“the opportunity to get involved and do something useful; and rewarding for myself, the community and the environment”
“Access to hands on practical conservation”
“Getting valuable work experiencing a broad range of subjects. doing something useful for the environment, involving people”
“To learn more skills and to meet new people and I like it a lot and I like to get out of the house”
“It helps me to help conserve the environment and help communities whilst educating myself and others”
“I can help people gain more skills”
“Learning new skills and knowledge”
“It is very successful at integrating people back into the community. BTCV provides opportunities for people from all
backgrounds to learn new skills”
“Learning new skills and meeting new people”
“Because you learn a new trade and I like meeting people”
“Getting new skills and taking part in something bigger and more important”
“Chance to be out of doors, learning new things and improving the environment”
“To learn skills to get a job”
“I am learning and getting OCNs”
Box 6. What is special about being involved with BTCV Cymru
Key theme 5: Health benefits - exercise and fresh air
“Good fun, nice crowd of people It's healthy, fresh air, good surroundings”
“Gain gentle exercise, meet people, learn new skills”
“I like walking”
“It gets
y
ou out in the fresh air, doing things for animals and keeping places orderl
y
and tid
y
“Meeting people, getting fit, improving the community, learning new skills and protecting and conserving the environment”
“You are out and about and helping the countryside out”
“It gets me out of the house”
“It has been of great help both physically and otherwise”
“Digging - I like meeting people while picking the vegetables and fruit, weeding”
“Everything you need - lots of fresh air and exercise, making new friends, meeting people and keeps you fit!”
“We get out and are not on the streets”
“Good outside things to do, helps keep us fit and also helps the look of the place that we are doing”
25
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
For key theme 3: “Social capital benefits - meeting people” comments mainly stressed the
importance of meeting new people and making new friends whilst volunteering for BTCV.
Examples of such “what is special” comments are shown in Box 4.
For key theme 4: “Education benefits - learning new skills and knowledge” comments largely
acknowledged the acquisition of new skills whilst volunteering for BTCV. Volunteers felt these
skills were important not only for the conservation work itself but also for possible future
employment opportunities. Examples of such “what is special” comments are shown in Box 5.
Key theme 5: “Health benefits - exercise and fresh air” resulted in comments outlining the fact
that as well as benefiting the environment, volunteers also reap various health benefits from
volunteering with BTCV, namely getting fitter, gaining exercise and getting out into the fresh air.
Further comments can be seen in Box 6.
Box 7. What is special about being involved with BTCV Cymru?
Key theme 6: Other comments – enjoyment, staff, outlooks etc
“As a volunteer I feel I might be able to help in some small wa
y
however, it is onl
y
economicall
y
viable because I am disabled”
“It's fun, good conservational work and I find it inspirational”
“BTCV employs staff who are very approachable, helpful and informative”
“It's fun and it protects the environment”
“The help and support BTCV give to community groups and how they contribute to sustainability - therefore it's special to
belong to an organisation that cares about the environment”
“You see things from a different angle; personally I am becoming very conscious of the state of the planet. I myself recycle as
much as I can and my 2 young children know to do so too - you realise that people's actions affect the planet”
“It's good fun and very exciting - I thoroughly enjoy gardening as I find it very fulfilling”
“It is an organisation which, with more members could have a more effective voice that single voices on their own”
“I greatly value my experiences with BTCV. BTCV is ver
y
inclusive”
“The people who work are there because they enjoy the work not just because it’s a job”
The final key theme (no. 6): “Other comments – enjoyment, staff, outlooks etc” comments varied
from praising the BTCV Cymru staff, acknowledging the fun and enjoyment aspects of
volunteering; to identifying individuals’ environmental philosophies. Examples of these
comments are shown in Box 7.
4.2 Relationships between volunteering for BTCV and environmental indicators
4.2.1 Relationships between environmental indicators
This study examines whether volunteering with BTCV is likely to lead to an increase in
connectedness to nature, which then may lead to an increase in both local and global
environmental awareness, a change in behaviour to incorporate ‘environmentally friendly’
practices into everyday life and ultimately to advocate environmental protection.
With this in mind, the relationships between the connectedness to nature score, the total
environmental awareness/responsibility score and the environmental behaviour score were
investigated. Initially, a one-way between groups multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA)
was conducted to identify if there were any significant differences in the environmental
26
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
awareness, connectedness to nature and environmentally friendly behaviour scores of the
participants in phase 1 of the research with those taking part in phase 2. This did not reveal any
statistically significant findings, indicating that participants’ data is comparable for both studies,
thus enabling analysis of all 403 participants as one dataset.
In order to evaluate relationships between the environmental variables, a series of Pearson
product-moment correlation coefficients were conducted. Preliminary analyses were performed
to ensure no violation of normality, linearity and homoscedasticity. The strongest, positive
correlation was between total environmental awareness/responsibility and connectedness to
nature [r=.56, n=338, p<.001] with 31% shared variance. There was also a medium, positive
correlation between connectedness to nature and total environmental behaviour [r=.42, n=318,
p<.001] with 18% shared variance and a medium, positive correlation between total
environmental behaviour and total environmental awareness/responsibility [r=.48, n=328,
p<.001] with 23% shared variance.
In short, the results of this study have shown that an increase in connectedness to nature is
associated with increases in environmental awareness and responsibility and in environmentally
friendly practice. This fact, although perhaps not surprising, shows that the underlying theory
behind this research is from a sound basis and the 3 dependent variables are positively
correlated. This study however does not specifically investigate the causality between these 3
variables.
The next step was then to examine whether there are increases in connectedness to nature,
environmental awareness and environmentally friendly behaviour through being involved with
BTCV Cymru.
4.2.2 Relationship between length of time volunteering for BTCV and environmental
indicators
Initial overall findings showed that when the population is divided into those that have been
volunteering with BTCV for 6 months or more compared to those who had been volunteering for
less than 6 months, the average connectedness to nature, total environmental
awareness/responsibility and total environmental behaviour scores appear to increase (see
Figure 11).
Fi
g
ure11. Chan
g
es in environmental factors over time
-
Phases 1 and 2
3
3.2
3.4
3.6
3.8
4
volunteering for <6
months
volunteering for >6
Months
Mean scores
CNS
Aw ar eness
(normalised)
Behaviour
(normalised)
In order to check that
these increases were
significant rather than j
a coincidence, a one-way
between groups
multivariate analysis of
variance was performed
to investigate whether
length of time
volunteering for BTCV
affected environmental
awareness and
behaviour.
ust
27
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
Three dependent variables were used: connectedness to nature, environmental
awareness/responsibility and environmental behaviour. The independent variable was length of
time volunteering for BTCV (either 6 months or less or over 6 months). Preliminary assumption
testing was conducted to check for normality, linearity, univariate and multivariate outliers,
homogeneity of variance-covariance matrices and multicolinearity with no serious violations
noted. With the whole sample of 403 participants there was found to be no statistically significant
increase in values.
However the phase 1
research had found that
there was a statistically
significant difference
between those who had
been volunteering for
less than 6 months and
those volunteering for
over 6 months on the
combined dependent
variables (see Figure
12): (F3,162=5.19, p
Wilks’ Lambda =.91;
partial eta squared=.08). In the phase 1 study, when the results for the dependent variab
were considered separately, the only difference to reach statistical significance, using a
Bonferroni adjusted alpha level of 0.017, was environmental behaviour.
<0.01;
les
Figure 12. Changes in environmental factors over time
volunteering with BTCV (Phase 1)
3
3.2
3.4
3.6
3.8
4
4.2
Volunteering for less than 6
months
Volunteering for ov er 6 months
Mean scores
CNS
Aw ar eness
(normalised)
Behaviour
(normalised)
Environmentally friendly behaviour (F1,164=14.76, p<0.001, partial eta squared = .08)
(small strength of association). An inspection of the mean scores indicated that those
who had been volunteering for over 6 months had slightly higher levels of
environmentally friendly behaviour (M=23.10, ± .95) than those who have been
volunteering for less than 6 months (M=18.14, ±.87)
The combined phase 1
and phase 2 data was
then split into those who
have been volunteering
for less than a year and
those who have been
volunteering for over a
year to see if the
observed changes in
score were statistically
more significant than
those for a 6 month split
(see Figure 13). An
independent-samples t-
test was then conducted on each of the 3 dependent variables to compare the mean scores for
those who had been volunteering for less than a year and those for more than a year.
Fi
g
ure 13. Chan
g
es in environmental factors over
length of time volunteering
3
3.2
3.4
3.6
3.8
4
4.2
Volunteering less than a year Volunteering over a year
Mean scores
CNS
Aw ar eness
(normalised)
Behaviour
(normalised)
28
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
For
connectedness to
nature there was
no significant
difference in
mean scores for
less than a year
(M=3.45 ±.04)
and for more than
a year (M=3.57
±.05; t(347)=1.96,
p=.05) – see
Figure 14.
Fi
g
ure 14. Chan
g
es in Connectedness to nature scores
over time volunteering
3.3
3.35
3.4
3.45
3.5
3.55
3.6
3.65
Volunteering less than a year Volunteering over a year
Mean scores
For en
awareness and
responsibility
there was a
statistically
significant
increase in
scores for more
than a year
(M=40.23 ±.37)
compared with
those who
volunteered
less than a year
(M=38.78 ±.56; t(355)=2.17, p<.05). The magnitude of the difference was small (eta
squared=.01) –
see Figure 15.
vironmental
mean
for
For
mental
ur
mean
teered for less than a year (M=18.81 ±..58; t(357)=2.13, p<.05). The
ven though an inspection of the mean scores indicated that those who had been volunteering
Fi
g
ure 15. Increase in Environmental awareness
scores over time volunteering
37
37.5
38
38.5
39
39.5
40
40.5
41
Volunteering less than a year Volunteering over a year
Mean score
environ
friendly behavio
there was a
statistically
significant
increase in
scores for more
than a year
(M=20.90 ±.79)
compared with
those who volun
magnitude of the difference was again small (eta squared=.01) – see Figure 16.
Fi
g
ure 16. Chan
g
es in environmental behaviour scores
over time volunteering
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
Volunteering less than a year Volunteering over a year
Mean scores
E
for a year or more had higher connectedness to nature, environmental awareness/ responsibility
and environmentally friendly behaviour than those who have been out volunteering for less than
a year, it is only the increases in environmental awareness and environmentally friendly
behaviour which are statistically significant in the study. Environmental awareness and
29
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
environmentally friendly practices can therefore be said to increase with length of time
volunteering, but connectedness to nature is not so appreciably affected.
4.2.3 Relationship between the number of times volunteering for BTCV and environmental
phase 1 of the research we asked volunteers how many times they had volunteered for BTCV
d
he relationship between number of times volunteering and the 3 environmental indicators was
itial comparisons of the average
s
rying
er
order to check that these
ther
y
rmed
ber of tim
hree dependent variables were used: connectedness to nature, environmental
was number
ring
s for the
ven though an inspection of the mean scores indicated that those who had been volunteering 6
indicators
In
Cymru. As this question had proved slightly ambiguous in practice and inconclusive, in stage 2
of the research we refined the questionnaire and instead asked how frequently participants
volunteered. For this reason the results below refer to the first phase of the research only an
section 4.2.4 refers to frequency.
T
examined. The survey population was split into 2 similar sized categories, those who told us they
had been out volunteering with BTCV Cymru for 5 times or less and those who had been out
volunteering for 6 times and over.
In
scores for the 2 categories for each
of the 3 environmental indicator
suggested that there were va
increases in all cases with numb
of times participants had been out
volunteering. These increases are
shown in Figure 17.
Fi
g
ure 17. Environmental behaviour with
number of times volunteering
0
10
20
30
40
volunteering 5 times or less volunteering over 6 times
Mean environmental behaviour
score
In
increases were significant ra
than just a coincidence, a one-wa
between groups multivariate
analysis of variance was perfo
to investigate whether num
awareness and behaviour.
es volunteering for BTCV affected environmental
T
awareness/responsibility and environmental behaviour. The independent variable
of times volunteering for BTCV (5 times or less or 6 times and over). Preliminary assumption
testing was conducted to check for normality, linearity, univariate and multivariate outliers,
homogeneity of variance-covariance matrices and multicolinearity with no serious violations
noted. There was no statistically significant difference between those who had been voluntee
5 times or less and those volunteering for 6 times or more on the combined dependent
variables: (F3,159=2.50, p=.061; Wilks’ Lambda =.98; partial eta squared=.05). The result
dependent variables were not therefore considered separately.
E
times or more had slightly higher levels of environmentally friendly behaviour than those who
have been out volunteering for more than 6 times, the Phase 1 results cannot be considered
statistically significant.
30
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
4.2.4 Relationship between the frequency and regularity of volunteering for BTCV and
stage 2 of the research participants were asked how frequently they volunteered for BTCV
ge
gh environmental awareness scores appear to decrease (see Figure 18).
gain, in order to check that these increases were significant rather than just a coincidence, a
r
he independent variable was frequency of volunteering for BTCV (either at least once a week
,
Connectedness
9,
ial
. An
e
environmental indicators
In
Cymru. The results below
refer to the second phase
of the research only. The
results of the research
showed that when the
population was divided
into those who volunteer
with BTCV at least once a
week and those who
volunteer for less than
once a week, the avera
connectedness to nature
and total environmental
behaviour scores appear
to increase with
frequency, althou
Fi
g
ure 18. Chan
g
es in environmental factors over
frequency of volunteering
3
3.2
3.4
3.6
3.8
4
4.2
Volunteering less than once a
w eek
Volunteering at least once a
w eek
Mean scores
CNS
Aw ar eness
(normalised)
Behaviour
(normalised)
A
one-way between groups multivariate analysis of variance was performed to investigate whethe
frequency of volunteering with BTCV affected the dependent variables of connectedness to
nature, environmental awareness and behaviour.
T
or less than once a week). Preliminary assumption testing was conducted to check for normality
linearity, univariate and multivariate outliers, homogeneity of variance-covariance matrices and
multicolinearity with no serious violations noted. With the whole sample of 403 participants there
was found to be a highly statistically significant increase in scores for those who volunteer more
than once a week compared to those who volunteer less frequently: (F3,127=8.8, p<0.001; Wilks’
Lambda =.83; partial eta squared=.17). When the results for the dependent variables were
considered separately, the increases to two variables reached statistical significance, using a
Bonferroni adjusted alpha level of 0.017. The observed decrease in environmental awareness
scores over frequency of volunteering was found to be non significant, so the research
hypothesis was not compromised.
Fi
g
ure 19. Increases in connectedness to nature over
frequency of volunteering
3
3.1
3.2
3.3
3.4
3.5
3.6
3.7
Volunteering less than once a w eek V olunteering at least once a w eek
Mean scores
to nature
(F1,129=7.5
p<0.001, part
eta squared =
.05) (small
strength of
association)
inspection of the
mean scores
indicated thos
who volunteered
more frequently
31
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
with BTCV had higher connectedness to nature scores (M=3.55, ± .09) than those who
volunteer less than once a week (M=3.26, ±.05) – see figure 19.
Environmental
behaviour
(F1,129=7.41,
p<0.01, partial e
squared = .05)
(small stren
association)
inspection of the
mean scores
indicated thos
who volunteered
more frequently
with BTCV had
higher
environmental behaviour scores (M=21.39, ± 1.1) than those who volunteer less than
once a week (M=17.38, ±.85) – see figure 20.
Fi
g
ure 20. Chan
g
es in environmental behaviour over
frequency of volunteering
0
5
10
15
20
25
Volunteering less than once a w eek V olunteering at least once a w eek
Mean scores
ta
gth of
. An
e
The observed decreases in environmental awareness with frequency of volunteering were not
statistically significant and so could be attributed to chance or coincidence. However
connectedness to nature and environmentally friendly behaviour has been shown in this study to
increase the more frequently that participants volunteer with BTCV.
4.2.5 Direct comparison longitudinal study
Changes in environmental variables over time
A longitudinal direct
comparison study was
also undertaken as part
of this research for BTCV
Cymru. A total of 18
people who took part in
both studies (Phase 1 in
November 2006 and
Phase 2 in June/July
2007) gave us their
names, to enable direct
comparisons over the
time scale of this
research. Mean values of
connectedness to nature, environmental awareness and environmentally friendly behaviour
increased during the interval of the 2 studies (see Figure 21). These increases in before and
after connectedness to nature, environmental awareness and environmentally friendly behaviour
are more pronounced in this smaller direct comparison than those shown in the overall study. In
fact, 88% of participants in the direct comparison study saw increases in their connectedness to
nature score, 94% saw a rise in environmental awareness and responsibility scores and 71%
Fi
g
ure 21. Differences between environmental factors
in longitudinal comparison study
3
3.2
3.4
3.6
3.8
4
4.2
4.4
Time 1- Nov 2006 Time 2- June 2007
Normalised score
CNS
Aw ar eness
(normalised)
Behaviour
(normalised)
32
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
saw increases in environmentally friendly behaviour over the 8-9 months that they were
volunteering with BTCV Cymru.
In order to check that these increases in mean value were statistically significant findings, rather
than down to chance, a
series of paired-samples
t-tests were conducted t
evaluate the impact of
volunteering for BTCV
over time on
connectedness to
nature, environmental
awareness and
behaviour.
o
ighly
n
a
ally
r
3
Fi
g
ure 22. Lon
g
itudinal differences in Connectedness
to Nature score
3.25
3.5
3.75
4
Time 1- Nov 2006 Time 2- June 2007
Mean CNS scor
e
There was a very
statistically
significant
increase in
connectedness to
nature scores
between phase 1
(M=3.39 ±.11) and
phase 2 (M=3.69
±.13, t(16)=2.98,
p<.01). The eta
squared statistic
(.36) indicated a
large effect size -
see Figure 22.
There was a h
statistically significant increase in environmental awareness scores between phase 1
(M=37.61 ±1.54) and phase 2 (M=43.22 ±1.39, t(17)=4.55, p<.001). The eta squared
statistic (.55) agai
indicated a large
effect size – see
Figure 23.
There was
Fi
g
ure 23. Lon
g
itudinal differences in Environmental
awareness score
30
32
34
36
38
40
42
44
46
Time 1- Nov 2006 Time 2- June 2007
Mean environmental awareness
score
statistically
significant
increase in
environment
friendly behaviou
scores between
phase 1 (M=17.1
±1.59) and phase
2 (M=19.06 ±1.54,
t(15)=2.73, p<.05). The eta squared statistic (.33) again indicated a large effect size –
see Figure 24.
Fi
g
ure 24. Lon
g
itudinal differences in Environmental
Behaviour Score
12
16
20
24
Time 1- Nov 2006 Time 2- June 2007
Mean environmental behaviour
score
33
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
This small-scale direct comparison study clearly shows that the environmental factors of
connectedness to nature, awareness of various environmental issues and participating in
environmentally friendly practices are significantly increased after volunteering with BTCV
Cymru for 8-9 months.
Details of changes in environmental awareness and behaviour
When the changes in environmental awareness scores between November 2006 and summer
2007 were examined in more detail, it is interesting to note which particular categories saw an
increase over time. The biggest increases in environmental awareness were observed at the
local or individual responsibility level, with the highest increase in the more practical dimensions,
that is, for those volunteers who said they ‘would be willing to pay money for environmental
cleanup or conservation programs in my area’ followed by those who said they are ‘willing to
change my life to a more environmentally sustainable way of living’. This shows that BTCV
volunteers in this longitudinal study are becoming more aware of the role that they themselves
can play in protecting the environment. At the UK level an increase in awareness of the need to
conserve UK biodiversity and an increase in concern for over fishing in the North Sea were
observed and at the global level the increase in awareness scores were seen concerning
climate change and global biodiversity.
These results are from a relatively small-scale longitudinal study and therefore it would be
difficult to generalise about the whole population of BTCV Cymru volunteers. However, it is
possible to draw some specific conclusions from this sample of volunteers and to surmise that
through learning about the environment and conservation as a result of hands-on conservation
work for BTCV, many volunteers have become more aware particularly of local and UK
environmental issues and what they can do as an individual to help make a difference.
Similarly the changes in environmental friendly practice scores between November 2006 and
summer 2007 were examined in more detail to see which particular practices had seen an
increase over time. The 3 practices that saw the greatest increase in volunteer participation were
i) recycling glass, paper and metal (a 26% increase from 58% of the volunteers to 84% of
volunteers recycling); ii) having a water efficient toilet (22% increase); and iii) turning off the
power to appliances off at the plug (21% increase from 64% of volunteers to 85%). These are all
relatively easy and low-cost environmentally friendly practices.
4.2.6 Other relationships
Relationship between
gender and
environmental indicators
Fi
g
ure 25. Differences in environmental factors b
y
gender
3
3.2
3.4
3.6
3.8
4
4.2
Mean scores
Male Fe m ale
CNS
Aw ar eness
(normalised)
Behaviour
(normalised)
Initial analysis also
suggested that gender
may affect
connectedness to
nature, environmental
awareness and
behaviour in this study
(see Figure 25).
34
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
Therefore a one-way between groups multivariate analysis of variance was performed to
investigate whether gender affected environmental awareness and behaviour. Three dependent
variables were used: connectedness to nature, environmental awareness/responsibility and
environmental behaviour. The independent variable was gender. Preliminary assumption testing
was conducted to check for normality, linearity, univariate and multivariate outliers, homogeneity
of variance-covariance matrices and multicolinearity with no serious violations noted. There was
a statistically significant difference between men and women for the combined dependent
variables: (F3,295=12.39, p<0.001; Wilks’ Lambda =.88; partial eta squared=.11).
When the results for the
dependent variables
were considered
separately, all 3 of the
differences reached
statistical significance,
using a Bonferroni
adjusted alpha level of
0.017.
Connectedness
to nature (F1,297=
14.16, p<0.001,
partial eta
squared = .05) (small strength of association). An inspection of the mean scores
indicated women
had slightly higher
connectedness to
nature scores
(M=3.65, ± .06)
than men
(M=3.41, ±.06)
see Figure 26).
Figure 26. Connectedness to nature by gender
3
3.1
3.2
3.3
3.4
3.5
3.6
3.7
3.8
Male Female
Mean CNS scor
e
Environmental
awareness/
responsibility
(F1,297=36.71,
p<0.001, partial
eta squared = .11) (moderate strength of association). An inspection of the mean scores
indicated women
had slightly
higher
environmental
awareness
/responsibility
scores (M=41.81,
± .64) than men
(M=37.90, ± .59)
– see Figure 27.
Figure 27. Environmental awareness by gender
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
Male Female
Mean scores
Figure 28. Environmental behaviour by gender
12
14
16
18
20
22
24
Mean scores
Male Fe ma le
35
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
Environmental behaviour (F1,297=11.42, p<0.001, partial eta squared = .04) (low
association strength). An inspection of the mean scores indicated women had slightly
higher environmental behaviour scores (M=21.86, ± .96) than men (M=18.61, ± .87)
see Figure 28.
This research clearly shows that women volunteers have higher connectedness to nature,
environmental awareness and display more environmentally friendly behaviour than men in our
survey.
Relationship between age and environmental indicators
Initial analysis again suggested that age plays a part in determining our connectedness to
nature, environmental
awareness and
behaviour (see Figure
29). Therefore in order to
see if this was simply a
coincidence or a
statistically significant
finding, a one-way
between groups
multivariate analysis of
variance was performed
to investigate whether
gender affected
environmental
awareness and
behaviour.
Figure 29. Environmental factors by age
3
3.2
3.4
3.6
3.8
4
4.2
under 30 yr s over 30 yrs
Mean scores
CNS
Aw ar eness
(normalised)
Behaviour
(normalised)
Three dependent variables were used: connectedness to nature, environmental
awareness/responsibility and environmental behaviour. The independent variable was age (for
the purposes of this analysis we divided the volunteers into those below 30 years and above 30
years of age). Preliminary assumption testing was conducted to check for normality, linearity,
univariate and multivariate outliers, homogeneity of variance-covariance matrices and
multicolinearity with no serious violations noted. There was a statistically significant difference
between the 2 age groups for the combined dependent variables: (F3,302=6.76, p0.001; Wilks’
Lambda =.94; partial eta squared=.06).
When the results for the
dependent variables
were considered
separately, all 3 of the
differences reached
statistical significance,
using a Bonferroni
adjusted alpha level of
0.017 for connectedness
to nature and behaviour
and of 0.008 for
awareness.
Figure 30. Connectedness to nature by age
3.2
3.3
3.4
3.5
3.6
3.7
3.8
under 30 yrs over 30 yrs
Mean scores
36
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
Connectedness to nature (F1,304= 10.36, p0.001, partial eta squared = .03) (moderate
strength of association). An inspection of the mean scores indicated older volunteers had
slightly higher connectedness to nature scores (M=3.60, ± .04) than younger volunteers
(M=3.36, ± .04) – see Figure 30.
Environmental awareness/ responsibility (F1,304=15.07, p<0.001, partial eta squared =
.05) (moderate
strength of
association). An
inspection of the
mean scores
indicated older
volunteers had
slightly higher
environmental
awareness
/responsibility
scores (M=40.48,
± .37) than
younger
volunteers (M=37.91, ± .49) – see Figure 31.
Figure 31. Environmental awareness by age
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
under 30 yr s over 30 yrs
Mean scores
Environmental behaviour (F1,304=14.06, p<0.001, partial eta squared = .04) (relatively low
association
strength). An
inspection of the
mean scores
indicated older
volunteers had
higher
environmental
behaviour scores
(M=21.02, ± .58)
than younger
volunteers
(M=17.90, ± .72)
– see Figure 32.
Figure 32. Environmental behaviour by age
14
16
18
20
22
under 30 yrs over 30 yrs
Mean scores
This research therefore has shown that volunteers over 30 years old displayed slightly higher
connectedness to nature and environmental awareness and participated in more
environmentally friendly practices than younger volunteers in this survey.
37
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
5. Conclusions
5.1 Discussion of evidence
A total of 403 volunteers (251 in phase 1 and 152 from phase 2) from 28 different BTCV groups,
took part in this research by completing the composite questionnaire. Of these 403 BTCV Cymru
volunteers, 18 participants gave us their names in both surveys to enable a direct longitudinal
comparison.
This study examines whether volunteering with BTCV has led to an increase in connectedness
to nature, an increase in both local and global environmental awareness, a change in behaviour
to incorporate ‘environmentally friendly’ practices into everyday life and ultimately to advocate
environmental protection.
Environmental factors – connectedness to nature, environmental awareness and environmental
behaviour
Connection to nature is considered to be an important predictor of ecological behaviour and
subjective well-being. The connectedness to nature scale was used in this study to assess
whether volunteering with BTCV and being exposed to nature increases an individual’s sense of
feeling connected to nature. Looking at the surveyed group as a whole we found that BTCV
volunteers were moderately connected to nature, as although scores varied from 1.71 to the
highest score of 5, the average score was 3.50(SD 0.58).
For environmental awareness, the BTCV volunteer population scores ranged from the lowest of
23 to the highest of 50 with the average score being 39.28 (SD 5.88) which indicates a relatively
high overall environmental awareness. Participants showed awareness of a range of
environmental issues ranging from the global scale (e.g. climate change), the national/UK scale
(UK biodiversity for example) and at the local and individual level.
The BTCV volunteers were also asked to detail the level and frequency of certain
environmentally friendly lifestyle options and practices, measured by a specifically designed set
of questions which referred to practices of all scales ranging from no cost options which are
easily achievable by most people such as recycling glass, paper and metal, turning appliances
off at the socket etc; inexpensive options but which may be dependent on having garden or
outside space (e.g. composting waste, wildlife friendly gardening etc); to options which may
require more effort or that have possible financial implications such as buying organic food and
switching to an electricity company who provides renewable power.
The top 3 environmentally friendly practices which participants stated that they carried out
‘always’ were: recycling, turning off the tap whilst cleaning teeth and taking showers instead of
baths. Both of the frequently carried out categories (‘always’ and ‘most of the time’) featured
options which are largely easy to do and low or zero cost. The practice that stood out as being
carried out less frequently, classed as ‘occasionally’, was buying organic food. From this
research we have found that people are more likely to adopt environmentally friendly behaviours
and practices which are relatively easy and inexpensive to carry out.
The most commonly cited reason for not carrying out various environmentally friendly practices
in this study was given as “never really having thought about it” when referring to i) using
renewable power companies ii) collecting rainwater in water butts and iii) having a water
efficient toilet. Two practices however stood out as being thought of as being too costly to carry
38
Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
out, buying organic food and switching to a company who supplies renewable power. Although
cost is an obstacle for some environmentally friendly practices, the fact that many have never
really thought about carrying out other practices, suggests that the range of environmentally
friendly behaviours could increase with increased awareness and education initiatives.
As for the other environmental indicators, a total environmental behaviour score was calculated
for each participant based on their responses and even though the BTCV volunteer population
scores ranged right across the scale from the lowest of 0 to the highest of 42, the average score
was 20.23, which suggests a good frequency of environmentally friendly practice amongst
volunteers.
Relationships between environmental factors and volunteering with BTCV Cymru
There was a positive correlation between all 3 of the environmental dependent variables.
Therefore with an increase in connectedness to nature, there is an increase in environmental
awareness and responsibility and an increase in environmentally friendly behaviour. A volunteer
who has a high connectedness to nature score is also likely to have high environmental
awareness and responsibility and is likely to be practicing a number of environmentally friendly
practices. This fact, although perhaps not surprising, supports the underlying theory behind this
research. This study however does not specifically investigate the causality between these 3
variables.
When environmental indicator scores were compared between those volunteers who had been
volunteering for BTCV Cymru for less than a year and those who had been volunteering for over
a year increases in 2 of the variables were observed. For environmental awareness and
responsibility and for environmental friendly behaviour there were statistically significant
increases in mean scores for more than a year compared with those who volunteered for less
than a year. Although the connectedness to nature scores also increased, they were not found
to be statistically significant. Environmental awareness and environmentally friendly practices
can therefore be said to increase with length of time volunteering, but connectedness to nature
is not so appreciably affected.
However, when the data from the smaller direct comparison study were examined the observed
increases in before and after connectedness to nature, environmental awareness and
environmentally friendly behaviour scores were found to be much more pronounced than those
shown in the overall study. These increases were found to be statistically significant and in fact,
88% of participants in the direct comparison study saw increases in their connectedness to
nature score, 94% saw a rise in environmental awareness and responsibility scores and 71%
saw increases in environmentally friendly behaviour over the 8-9 months that they were
volunteering with BTCV Cymru.
When the changes in environmental awareness scores between November 2006 and summer
2007 were examined in more detail, the biggest increases in environmental awareness were
observed at the local or individual responsibility level. This suggests that BTCV volunteers in this
longitudinal study are becoming more aware of the role that they themselves can play in
protecting the environment. At the UK level an increase in awareness of the need to conserve
UK biodiversity and an increase in concern for over fishing in the North Sea were observed and
at the global level the increase in awareness scores were seen concerning climate change and
global biodiversity. These results are from a relatively small-scale longitudinal study and
therefore it would be difficult to generalise about the whole population of BTCV Cymru
volunteers. However, it is possible to draw some specific conclusions from this sample of
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Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
volunteers and to surmise that through learning about the environment and conservation as a
result of hands-on conservation work for BTCV, many volunteers have become more aware
particularly of local and UK environmental issues and what they can do as an individual to help
make a difference.
Similarly the changes in environmental friendly practice scores in the small scale longitudinal
study were examined in more detail to see which particular practices had seen an increase over
time. The 3 practices that saw the greatest increase in volunteer participation were i) recycling
glass, paper and metal (a 26% increase from 58% of the volunteers to 84% of volunteers
recycling); ii) having a water efficient toilet (22% increase); and iii) turning off the power to
appliances off at the plug (21% increase from 64% of volunteers to 85%). These are all the
relatively easy and low-cost environmentally friendly options, which support findings from the
phase 1 study that found that people are more likely to adopt environmentally friendly
behaviours and practices which are relatively easy and inexpensive to carry out.
Volunteers in the second phase of the study were asked how frequently they volunteer for BTCV
Cymru and the results for the environmental variables were compared for those who volunteer at
least once a week and for those who volunteer less than once a week. An inspection of the
mean scores indicated those who volunteered more frequently with BTCV had higher
connectedness to nature scores and higher environmental behaviour scores than those who
volunteer less than once a week. These increases in scores were both found to be statistically
significant. However, the observed decreases in environmental awareness with frequency of
volunteering were not found to be statistically significant and so could be attributed to chance or
coincidence. Connectedness to nature and environmentally friendly behaviour can therefore be
said to increase the more frequently that participants volunteer with BTCV, but environmental
awareness is not so affected.
Other variations in environmental factors
In accordance with evidence in published literature regarding gender issues and environmental
awareness and behaviour5, this research also found that women volunteers had higher
connectedness to nature and awareness of environmental issues and displayed more
environmentally friendly behaviour than the male volunteers in our survey.
In addition, volunteers over 30 years of age demonstrated slightly higher connectedness to
nature and environmental awareness and participated in more environmentally friendly practices
than the younger volunteers in this survey.
Motivations for volunteering with BTCV
The phase 1 study highlighted the need to examine any changes in motivation from when
participants first started volunteering with BTCV to the current time, often many years later. In
the phase 2 study we also asked respondents to tell us why they continue to volunteer with
BTCV. In addition to the reasons given for starting out, the options of ‘It makes me feel better’
and ‘Being outside in the fresh air’ were added. The 4 main reasons for continuing to volunteer
were given as: i) ‘learning skills’ (63% of participants), ii) ‘the people’ (62%)’ iii) ‘being outside in
the fresh air’ (58%) and iv) ‘an interest in the environment or conservation’ (56%).
5 Zelenzy et al 2000
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Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
These motivations for volunteering with BTCV Cymru are as expected very much in keeping with
what participants in the survey told us made volunteering ‘special’ for them. In total 287 ‘what is
special?’ comments were collated and although there was much variation and personal insight,
the comments fell into 6 key themes: i) natural capital benefits - helping the environment / value
of conservation (83 comments), ii) natural capital benefits - local community (46 comments), iii)
social capital benefits - meeting people (56), iv) education benefits - learning new skills and
knowledge (36), v) health benefits - exercise and fresh air (12), vi) other comments – enjoyment,
staff, outlooks etc (54 comments).
When the changes in motivation were examined in more detail in phase 2, we found that more
participants appreciated the importance of the social element, the meeting up with fellow
volunteers over time. Increases were also observed with ‘keeping fit and active’ and ‘improving
my community’. Changes in motivation between starting to volunteer and having volunteered for
some time suggest that participants appreciate new and different reasons for volunteering with
BTCV over time.
In short, the results of this study have shown that an increase in connectedness to nature is
associated with increases in environmental awareness and responsibility and in environmentally
friendly practice. In turn, these environmental indicators increase with length of time volunteering
with BTCV or in the case of connectedness to nature with frequency of volunteering with BTCV
Cymru. Gender and age also make a difference to the level of connectedness to nature,
awareness of environmental issues and uptake of environmentally friendly practices.
5.2 Conclusions
There is evidence that contact with the natural environment and green space promotes good
health. It is also well-known that participation in regular physical activity generates physical and
mental health benefits. This has led to the development of a “green exercise” programme which
aims to quantify these positive effects on health and well-being in a range of contexts.
The UK is currently experiencing problems with obesity, sedentary lifestyles and disconnections
from nature and the land. We are increasingly becoming an urbanised society, with limited
understanding of the natural environment, or the impact of our actions upon it. Increasing
participation in green exercise group activities, such as conservation volunteering for BTCV may
provide an effective tool for tackling these issues, whilst also enhancing social capital and
educating individuals and local communities alike on the role they can play in conserving green
spaces and local ecosystems.
University of Essex green exercise research6 has previously shown that participation in a range
of green exercise activities (including conservation volunteering) leads to significant health and
social benefits. Self-esteem levels are significantly improved and feelings of anger, confusion,
depression and tension all significantly improve post-activity. Similar research in Australia has
found that members of land conservation groups experience higher levels of health and well-
being than non-members7. The positive health benefits derived from participating in
conservation activities include improvements to physical health and general mood, and in
addition, to enhanced social capital.
6 Pretty et al 2005,2007
7 Moore et al 2006
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Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
The social benefits gained from establishing relations of trust, creating a sense of
neighbourliness and forming local networks that help bind people together are an important part
of the conservation volunteering experience. Conservation groups appear to contribute to the
social capital of local communities and many studies have shown that involvement in
conservation group activities increases social networking and fosters a sense of belonging8.
These conservation groups also contribute to the environmental health of the area through the
conservation work that they perform.
The BTCV Cymru research has indicated that a positive relationship exists between
connectedness to nature, environmental behaviour and adoption of environmentally friendly
behaviours and that there is an increase in these variables over time and frequency of
volunteering with BTCV Cymru. The results of the direct longitudinal study also supported this
and showed that the increase in all 3 variables (connectedness to nature, environmental
awareness and environmentally friendly behaviour) over time is more pronounced, showing
statistically significant results.
This study suggests that participating in conservation volunteering activities not only reconnects
people to nature but also positively influences the environmental attitudes and behaviours of
individuals, due to a range of motivators which provide the catalyst for change. The initial
motivations for volunteering have been shown to change over time as individuals become more
connected to nature, their environment and their fellow volunteers. The ethos “think global, act
local” comes into play as people start to make small changes to their nearby nature, whilst
increasing their global awareness and conscience. This often leads to a desire to spend more
time in greenspaces, to care more about their environment and to work to conserve and protect
it against any potential threats. Participating in conservation activities also enhances both
physical health and psychological well-being as a secondary consequence of behavioural
changes, which in turn encourages people to participate more frequently, thus continuing the
cyclical process.
Therefore, all these conservation activities generate substantial environmental, social, and
physical and mental health benefits, indicating the potential not only for environmental
conservation but also for a wider health and well-being dividend. Green space rich in biodiversity
provides the ideal opportunity for outdoor recreation and acts as a valuable health resource for
its users. The concept of green exercise group activities, such as conservation volunteering and
‘Green Gyms’, therefore has important implications for public and environmental health, and for
a wide range of policy sectors.
5.3 Future research
Although the findings from this research support the hypothesis that volunteering in
environmental conservation increases feelings of connectedness to nature; heightens
awareness of environmental issues; and increases the likelihood of carrying out environmentally
friendly practices in addition to giving associated health and well-being benefits, there are
several factors that would benefit from further research.
The people who took part in this research had already, for whatever reason, decided to
volunteer with BTCV. It could be argued then that these people are therefore already
reasonably connected to nature, fit and healthy, motivated and socially included. The
8 Moore et al 2006, Burls and Caan 2004, Townsend and Marsh 2004, Irvine and Warbler 2002.
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Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
observed increases in environmentally friendly factors could just be suggestive of the fact
that people who are healthy and socially included are more likely to volunteer their time
and energy to conservation projects. It would be interesting to see if people who have
never thought about taking part in conservation activities also see increases in
connection to nature and environmental awareness as a result of volunteering with
BTCV.
More pronounced and significant results were observed in the small-scale repeated
measures study where direct comparisons could be made between the same volunteers
at different times. A larger scale, longer term project of research of this nature with more
participants could show trends over longer timescales (6 months, 12 months, 18 months
etc).
Volunteering in conservation activities is associated with learning new skills, fostering an
enthusiasm for the environment and community and building up social networks. As a
result many volunteers become motivated to volunteer in other areas or move on to find
a job (often in conservation) and so may not continue with volunteering with BTCV.
Although this turnover of volunteers can be seen as a mark of the success of the project
it can make longitudinal studies more problematic. It would be interesting to follow a
group of BTCV Cymru volunteers over a period of time to discover where the initial
volunteering with BTCV leads in terms of future directions for participants.
perceptions of changes in environmentally friendly behaviour and awareness – it would
also be interesting for future research to include a opportunity for volunteers to consider
for themselves if their connectedness to nature, environmental awareness and behaviour
(or other factors) have changed over time through being involved with BTCV Cymru.
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Evaluating the impact of environmental volunteering on behaviours and attitudes to the environment – University of Essex 2008
6. References
Burls A and Caan W. 2004 Networking, social exclusion and embracement: a helpful concept.
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Defra. 2008. UK Government Sustainable Development Framework indicators. Sustainable
Development Unit. Website: http://www.sustainable-
development.gov.uk/progress/national/framework.htm
Irvine KN and Warbler SL. 2002. Greening Healthcare: practicing as if the natural environment
really mattered. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 8:76-83
Mayer F and McPherson Frantz C. 2004. The connectedness to nature scale: A measure of
individuals’ feeling in community with nature. Journal of Environmental Psychology 24
503–515
Moore M, Townsend M and Oldroyd J. 2006. Linking human and ecosystem health: the benefits
of community involvement in conservation groups. EcoHealth 3(4) 255-261
Pretty J, Griffin M, Peacock J, Hine R, Sellens M and South N. 2005. A countryside for health
and wellbeing; the physical and mental health benefits of green exercise. Countryside
Recreation Network, Sheffield
Pretty J, Peacock J, Hine R, Sellens M, South N and Griffin M. 2007. Green Exercise in the UK
Countryside: Effects on Health and Psychological Well-Being, and Implications for Policy
and Planning. J. Environ. Planning and Manage. 50(2) 211-231
Townsend M and Marsh R. 2004. Exploration of the Health and Wellbeing Benefits of
Membership of Truganina Explosives Reserve Preservation Society. Final Report,
November 2004. Deakin University, School of Health and Social Development.
Melbourne, Australia
Zelezny LC, Chua PP and Aldrich C. 2000. New ways of thinking about environmentalism:
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The natural world's role in human well-being is an essential, yet often forgotten, aspect of healthcare. Of particular importance are the benefits one can derive through interaction with natural environments. While health is an obvious goal of allopathic medicine, many healthcare settings are neither nurturing nor healing. Reincorporating the natural world into the design of settings in which medicine is practiced is one way to complement conventional healing modalities and move healthcare toward being more "green." This article discusses the breadth of existing knowledge available on the positive aspects of interaction with nature and provides a comprehensive theoretical perspective for future research. Computerized searches were conducted using MEDLINE, PsycINFO, the Social and Scientific Science Indices, Dissertation Abstracts, Lexus-Nexus, the University of Michigan library, and the Internet. Searches were conducted from June 2001 through March 2002. Keywords used included health, well-being stress, attention, nature, garden, landscape, restorative, and healing. The literature, published between 1960 and 2001, came from various disciplines, including medicine, public health, nursing psychology, natural resources, history, and landscape architecture. Four components of well-being were used as a framework for literature selection: physical psychological-emotional social, and spiritual. Articles were qualitatively reviewed to extract theories, hypotheses, and experimental evidence. Interaction with nature positively affects multiple dimensions of human health. Physiological effects of stress on the autonomic nervous system are lessened. Psychologically, deficits in attention can be restored or minimized, and people report feeling greater satisfaction with a variety of aspects of life. The presence of the natural world promotes social health by encouraging positive social interaction and lessening the frequency of aggressive behavior. Spiritual well-being is enhanced through the experience of greater interconnectedness, which occurs when interacting with the natural world. The literature reviewed provides evidence to support the intuitive belief that interaction with the natural world is a vital part of biopsychosocial-spiritual well-being. Incorporating the natural world into healthcare could provide health benefits and improve the design of healthcare facilities. Applied more broadly to society, this knowledge may change the way we approach public health, guard and manage natural resources, and design environments for human use.
Certain observations arose from the implementation of multicentre research on ‘ecotherapy’. Very diverse community groups of people with a range of disabilities, undertaking horticulture and nature conservation as a therapeutic and social enterprise, provided an unexpected conception. We coined the term embracement to capture the meaning of an activity we found in many ‘bottom-up’ examples of social inclusion. Self-organizing groups grow by the members’ choosing to embrace a common identity, which included and integrated health, social and environmental dimensions. Embracement is self-directing, spontaneous and collective, with the potential group members being the driving force.
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A review of recent research (1988 to 1998) on gender differences in environmental attitudes and behaviors found that, contrary to past inconsistencies, a clearer picture has emerged: Women report stronger environmental attitudes and behaviors than men. Additional evidence of gender differences in environmental attitudes and behaviors was also supported across age (Study 1) and across 14 countries (Study 2). As a single variable, the effect of gender on proenvironmental behavior was consistently stronger than on environmental attitudes. Explanations for gender differences in environmentalism were examined in Study 3. It was found that compared to males, females had higher levels of socialization to be other oriented and socially responsible. Implications for theory, social action, and policy are discussed.
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  • J Pretty
  • M Griffin
  • J Peacock
  • R Hine
  • M Sellens
  • N South
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A countryside for health and wellbeing; the physical and mental health benefits of green exercise. Countryside Recreation Network
  • J Pretty
  • M Griffin
  • J Peacock
  • R Hine
  • Sellens M South
Pretty J, Griffin M, Peacock J, Hine R, Sellens M and South N. 2005. A countryside for health and wellbeing; the physical and mental health benefits of green exercise. Countryside Recreation Network, Sheffield