, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 27-41

Ecological restoration volunteers: the benefits of participation

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There is an international volunteer movement to protect and restore sensitive natural landscapes. In Illinois alone, almost 40,000 acres of rare prairie, oak savanna, wetlands and woodland ecosystems in urban and suburban communities are monitored and managed by volunteers. As natural habitats disappear or become degraded worldwide, it is increasingly important to understand how a personal involvement with nature, in the form of restoration, benefits the individual as well as aiding in species and ecosystem survival. This study examined the satisfactions that volunteers derive from prairie restoration in the Chicago metropolitan area. Questionnaire responses from 263 volunteers indicate that volunteers experience high levels of many different satisfactions. Tenure, frequency and extent of involvement in restoration were used to predict restoration satisfactions, life satisfaction and life functioning. Implications for recruiting and sustaining volunteer involvement in restoration efforts are discussed.