I’ve spent a little bit of my time recently looking into conservation projects which are focused wholly or predominantly around the elderly and surprisingly little has come to light in the UK. This seems quite strange seeing as many elderly residents round here are quite interested in planting for our indigenous pollinators, as can easily be seen by taking a quick stroll around the village and paying a bit more attention than usual to the gardens. As a general rule of thumb very well kept gardens with quite traditional planting, tends to be older people, I suspect simply because they have the time to dedicate.
It’s this which got me wondering about the involvement of the elderly in conservation and ecology, they clearly have an interest (or some do at least) plus they often have the available time to dedicate during the day, I appreciate that age will limit any physical activities, but many projects are based around the monitoring of a particular species, be it insects, bats or mammals, all can be easily monitored without the need of anything more than a gentle walk. I suspect that a bat monitoring survey would need to utilise specialist bat detectors which rely on the bats own echolocation system to track and identify the different species, something which could prove a little to technical for some, as some of the bat detectors on the market do look pretty technical as can be seen here but simple daytime monitoring would be relatively simple.
Although provided an elderly person can read the data provided by a bat detector, it’s even possible that a monitoring program could be done from the garden of a property in the right area.
Having looked around the internet, specifically for wildlife related projects, there are many organisations who offer discounts to pensioners, but very few who actually attempt to get them involved. This does seem a waste of an available, potentially keen and very large proportion of our population.
I firmly believe that conservation and wildlife groups should look at tapping in on this available resource.