Meet the Nature Ninjas
A group of Nature Ninjas has been looking after the countryside on a Scottish Wildlife Trust project in Cumbernauld, near Glasgow – and getting fit. A study showed that the volunteers burn around 1,500 calories and walked an average distance of ten six miles during conservation work.
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Meet the Nature Ninjas
Volunteers have been surprised to discover the fitness benefits of wildlife conservation work.
The Nature Ninjas have burned twice their normal calories on projects with Scottish Wildlife Trust.
Once a month, the Cumbernauld Living Landscape volunteers work at three green spaces in the town.
Each Nature Ninja has worn an activity tracker to record the amount of steps taken and calories used during work on nature reserves and at public events.
Data from the devices revealed that they burn around 1,500 calories and walk an average distance of ten six miles during conservation work.
This is roughly double the amount of active calories used in a normal day at the office.
And volunteers at public events covered an average of 12,000 steps while helping to communicate the Cumbernauld Living Landscape project to 6000 local people.
Nature Ninja Louise Smith has welcomed the benefits of the conservation work.
She said: “The work is hard graft but fun and the physical exercise gives me a buzz and helps me to sleep really well afterwards.
“It’s also great to able to get outdoors and spend a few hours with amazing people in beautiful surroundings.
“Knowing you’re making a difference for nature just adds to the overall experience.”
The Cumbernauld Living Landscape is a long-term vision to bring a transformational change to the town’s environment.
The green spaces include St Maurice’s Pond, Ravenswood Local Nature Reserve and Cumbernauld Glen Wildlife Reserve.
Volunteer work has included clearing non-native invasive species, maintaining paths to improve access and planting wildflowers and trees.
Tracy Lambert, the project’s community engagement officer, said: “It’s easy to forget about the physical and health benefits of volunteering but the evidence shows people who spend more time in nature are healthier, happier and more engaged with the environment.
“People are always really surprised when they find out just how active they get when they come to help us improve their local nature reserves.
“Another benefit it it’s so much cheaper than a gym membership.”
Paul Barclay is a natural networks officer with community volunteering charity, TCV Scotland.
He said: “The Cumbernauld Living Landscape project is win-win for all.
“The hard work of the volunteers makes an incredible contribution to nature and Cumbernauld.
“Plus the Nature Ninjas reap the benefits for their own good health.”
Cumbernauld Living Landscape a partnership project with SWT, North Lanarkshire Council and Forestry Commission Scotland.
SWT, which is Scotland’s leading nature conservation charity, receives financial assistance and support from a range of groups, including Scottish Natural Heritage and players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
An SWT spokesperson said: “The aim of the project – and others like it – is to reinforce and expand existing green networks and reconnect people to the natural environment.”
How you can volunteer
To find out more about Cumbernauld Living Landscape see cumbernauldlivinglandscape.org.uk
SWT has many volunteering positions. See scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/how-you-can-help/volunteer/
TCV Scotland is at www.tcv.org.uk/scotland