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 working for wildlife and the countryside in and around Harlow.
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About HCV

   About HCV

Who are we?
Harlow Conservation Volunteers (HCV) is a group of volunteers who work for nature conservation in and around Harlow. Our aim is to improve the environment for wildlife, nature conservation, and recreation and to improve public access to the countryside.

HCV was founded in 1985 with the assistance of Harlow District Council and TCV - The Conservation Volunteers (the new name of the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers). We are affiliated as a community group to TCV.

Legally HCV is an unincorporated charitable association (club/society) governed by the group's constitution:
HCV Constitution (24kbyte).

What do we do?
We do many conservation and management tasks including:

  • Managing trees, woodlands and hedgerows
  • Clearing streams and ponds
  • Reed bed, meadow, and heathland management
  • Building fences and hides
  • Improving and maintaining footpaths.

Of course, the tasks we do depend on the time of year. During the autumn and winter work includes coppicing, pollarding, hedge-laying, and tree planting. During the spring and summer we do wild flower planting, scrub control, build bridges, steps, and boardwalks, and even make charcoal.

We work primarily on nature reserves and public open spaces, but also occasionally on privately owned land.

To get a better idea of what we do, have a look at the photo gallery. To find out more about the sites we work on go to the sites section.


Tasks are usually arranged every fortnight on a Sunday. They last the entire day but your help will be valued for whatever time you can spare. The task leader will give you training in work techniques and safety. We provide appropriate tools, protective gear, and materials. The work is enjoyable and we have regular breaks for tea and a chat!

You will learn new skills and meet people willing to share their knowledge. You will see new places and make a very important contribution towards the conservation of our natural heritage. Hopefully, you will also have some fun and make new friends.

The group has third party liability insurance for volunteers on task.

Who can help?
The group involves people of all ages in its practical work. However, children and young people under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult who will be responsible for them at all times. No prior experience is required.

What you will need
Please bring warm clothes, boots or wellies, and waterproofs. Tea and coffee are provided but you will need a mug and a packed lunch.

Getting there
The group meets on site, and directions can be found in the task programme sent regularly to all volunteers. Many of the tasks are within a short cycle ride of much of Harlow.

New volunteers are always welcome.

For detailed policies on health and safety, child protection, equal opportunites, and volunteer expenses see the Policies page.

Other Activities
The group has regular evening meetings to discuss future work which all volunteers may attend. Tasks are quite sociable in themselves, but occasional social get-togethers are arranged such as a barbecue, a walk, or Christmas lunch.

Whom We Work For

We mainly work for public bodies and wildlife charities. The group is involved with a number of regular sites and projects, including Parndon Wood Nature Reserve which is owned and managed by Harlow Council. We do also carry out some conservation work for private landowners.

We welcome enquiries about potential new projects.

The group's main expertise is getting practical work done with volunteers. Although we may be able to help, conservation advice is best sought from Harlow's Biodiversity Officer who organises the WildSpace! programme, or from Essex Wildlife Trust for elsewhere in Essex.


HCV is a charitable and non-profit making organisation. It is run entirely by volunteers and has no paid staff. The group's turnover is below the Charity Commission's threshold for it to be registered as a charity.

The group receives no regular grant funding. The group has received grants in the past but these have been in the main for capital rather than revenue. Regular revenue costs include public liability insurance, training, tool repair and maintenence, communications, and volunteer expenses. From time to time volunteers, in addition to giving their time on conservation tasks, do help raise funds for the group; however the bulk of revenue funding comes from small charges made to organisations that we work for ("user-bodies"). Charges can be on the basis of either a flat group day rate or a per volunteer day rate.

See the accounts page for the organisation's published annual accounts.

Working With Other Bodies
HCV takes part in the Harlow Biodiversity partnership, which is intended to be a partnership between Harlow Council and local conservation organizations and volunteers.
HCV has a close working relationship with sister organisation Harlow Wildlife Projects which seeks to secure funds for projects on nature reserves and wildlife sites.
HCV is an affiliated member of Harlow Voluntary Sector Forum organised by Voluntary Action Epping Forest in association with Rainbow Services.

HCV does not engage in political activity.


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© Website design by Andrew Tomlins and Mike Neeve. This page by Andrew Tomlins.
This page last updated on 4 March 2023.
page URL: www.harlowwildlife.org.uk/hcv/hcvabout.htm