Celebrating the Contribution of Green Volunteers Across Europe

20 May 2011 | News story

On and around 24th May 2011, Europe’s most beautiful places will recognise the work of the thousands of green volunteers that help take care of these fabulous spaces and the animals and plants they protect. During the celebrations of the European Day of Parks hundreds of events will highlight the assets of volunteering will take place across the continent. The European Day of Parks was launched by IUCN Member, the EUROPARC Federation.

2011 is the European Year of Volunteers. With this event the European Union is, quite rightly, recognising how essential volunteers are to our society. A study from the European Volunteer Centre has established that volunteers represent the equivalent of 3-5% of the economically active population in many countries; they make a $400 billion contribution to the global economy; the number of full-time equivalent volunteers is approximately 140 million people; and if volunteers were a nation, they would be the 9th most populous country in the world.

One of the societal sectors that profits the most from volunteering is nature protection. Green volunteers do an amazing job looking after our natural treasures and deserve recognition for their efforts. This is exactly what is happening in Europe on and around 24th May for the European Day of Parks. This year national parks and other protected natural areas are putting on events which promote the work volunteers do in protected areas around Europe every year. These events are a great opportunity for everybody, no matter what you do or where you come from, to have fun whilst doing something healthy for body and soul and worthwhile for the environment. So far over 500 events have been registered by 185 protected areas in 17 countries.

Taking part in a local event on the European Day of Parks or just offering a few hours of your time to the park is a wonderful chance to explore and support a local green area and its staff. It’s a day out with a difference, the difference being the great feeling that one walks away with at the end of the day after ticking all the right boxes.

The European Day of Parks was launched by the EUROPARC Federation in 1999 with the aim to promote the work of Europe’s natural parks. Events have been celebrated across Europe on an annual basis since then on 24th May, a date that has been chosen to commemorate the creation of Europe's first nine national parks in Sweden in 1909. This year the Day of Parks is partnered with the Earth Day celebrations and every event will count as one act of green for the project “A Billion Acts of Green”.

A list of the currently registered events can be found here.