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BTCV (formerly British Trust for Conservation Volunteers[1]) is the largest practical conservation charity in the United Kingdom.[citation needed]


Overall Aims

BTCV's vision is "a better environment where people are valued, included and involved".

The organisation's aims include:

  • Enabling people to make a difference in their lives and improve the places around them.
  • Providing opportunities and choice for people to improve their lives.
  • Local mobilisation to have a global impact (e.g. through activities to combat climate change).
  • Delivering social and environmental equality.

On a practical level, BTCV enables 628,000 volunteers per year to engage in conservation work in both the urban and the rural environment.

BTCV also has a for-profit trading arm, BTCV Enterprises, which generates profit to feed back into and support the charity. The company has various government contracts to work with the long-term unemployed, aiming to improve skills and qualifications.


The charity attempts to be inclusive and accessible to all, running a diverse range of activities across the UK. Many are focused around practical conservation work, but BTCV also provides extensive training, work experience and education opportunities. BTCV's projects are varied and include community gardens, food growing projects, taking care of parks and nature reserves, tree planting and woodland management, dry stone walling and projects to increase biodiversity. Projects also exist to help introduce children and young people to the environment as well as those helping to involve people with learning difficulties in environmental activities.

Some of BTCV's activities include:

  • Conservation projects
  • Green Gym, a programme to promote the health benefits of working in the outdoors
  • Conservation holidays, both in the UK and worldwide
  • Providing support to local community groups
  • Providing accredited training
  • Consultancy
  • Environmental education and waste education programmes for children and young people
  • Providing training for the long-term unemployed


  • In 1959, Brigadier Armstrong was appointed by the (then) Council for Nature to form a group called The Conservation Corps. The object was to involve volunteers in practical conservation work. The first project was at Box Hill, Surrey. 42 volunteers, including David Bellamy, cleared dogwood to encourage the growth of juniper and distinctive chalk downland flora.
  • By 1964 the Conservation Corps had expanded its activities to include education and amenity work in the countryside. In 1966 it moved from a basement office at Queens Gate, Kensington, to new premises at London Zoo in Regent's Park. In 1968 the first training course for volunteers was held.
  • By 1969 membership had increased to 600, and volunteers completed around 6000 workdays a year. The first ever international exchange visit to Czechoslovakia that year became the forerunner for the International Project Programme of today.
  • In 1970, the Conservation Corps started to operate under the new name of British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV), the Duke of Edinburgh became Patron. In 1971 the local group affiliation scheme was launched.
  • In 1972 the Conserver magazine was launched.
  • By 1974 there were 3000 registered volunteers and 57 groups had registered with BTCV.
  • In 1975 the BTCV Membership scheme was started
  • In 1977 BTCV set up an ecological park opposite the Tower of London as part of the Queen's Silver Jubilee celebrations.
  • In 1984 BTCV moved its headquarters to Wallingford, Oxfordshire.
  • In August 2006 BTCV moved to its present headquarters in Doncaster. The new "environmentally friendly" building features a sedum covered roof - hence its name - Sedum House. The Scottish office is in Stirling, the Welsh office in Whitchurch, Cardiff and the Northern Ireland office in Belfast.

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