The association Les Blongios organizes ecological worksites led by volunteers, mainly in the region “Hauts-de-France”, from 1 to 15 days, for the preservation and the restoration of natural environments.
The association supervises groups (school groups, social centers, handicapped groups, works councils, etc.) and educates the participants to discover the natural environment. The activities are based on soft techniques of management of natural environments such as the digging of a pond, the landing of banks, the planting of hedges, the cleaning of ditches, the topping of willows or the clearing of brushwood.
Field of activity
4 employees, 12 administrators and 250 volunteers
In terms of purchases, the actions of the members aim to:
buy as much as possible directly from local producers in a short circuit
collaborate with local businesses
organize several times a year repair sessions for tools purchased from large suppliers with the association’s employees and some volunteers
to repair tools as much as possible, thanks to donations of material (tool handles, spare parts…) and purchases at flea markets. The rest of the material used on the site, such as boots or gloves, is also reused or obtained from donations
On the energy side, the actions are to:
avoid thermal tools for the association’s work sites, as they generate noise pollution and run on gasoline. In exchange, more traditional tools are used, which can be easily repaired, do not impact the natural environment, and allow users to relearn old techniques
In terms of mobility, the members’ actions were to:
use mainly public transport when travelling
give priority to carpooling instead of individual cars
In 2016, volunteers expressed the desire to create a working group dedicated to reducing the ecological footprint. The association then created the Agenda 21 working group to reflect on its impacts and possible actions. This initiative was quickly validated by the board of directors
Before the existence of the Agenda 21 working group, the implementation of actions depended on everyone’s interests. This group met regularly from 2017 to 2019 and gathered one employee and 5 volunteers coordinators of nature worksites already conscious of the environment. During these meetings, good ecological practices for mobility, purchases and use of equipment emerged and were integrated into the coordination training program, which aims to train volunteers wishing to be coordinators of worksites. Thus, sustainable development in the association has become more structural because good practices are systematically transmitted during the training of new volunteers.
Maintaining the motivation of the group has sometimes been a barrier. In 2019, the Agenda 21 working group stopped meeting because the volunteers most involved initially were no longer active.
Also, logistical and technical constraints prevented the implementation of certain initiatives. For example, the use of a car for the worksites is necessary because it is difficult to transport all the tools by train.
A subscription to Citiz to rent cars for car-sharing made it possible to avoid buying a second vehicle.
Within the volunteer team, changes in practices have been noted following participation in the nature worksites:
– 10% reduced their use of their personal car in favor of carpooling or public transportation
– 25% have reduced their purchases in supermarkets in favor of short circuits
– 38% believe that the nature worksites have changed their gardening practices (reduction or cessation of the use of pesticides and/or chemical fertilizers, increase in soft management practices applied to the garden…)