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Leaner and greener

Give up the gym membership, save money and get fit anyway is the message from the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. The BTCV's Green Gym campaign urges adult volunteers to join practical conservation work parties. You can learn on the job to plant hedges, build footpaths or create wildlife gardens, for example. If you haven't got time to get out of town, many tasks are city-based and you can join in for as little as a day - Monday to Friday throughout the year in some areas - as weekends.

A typical two-day project to ease you into the holidays is managing wetlands at Cassiobury Park, Watford, Hertfordshire on July 22 and 23; removing watercress and reeds from old gravel beds to conserve the habitat for birds. It's muddy and wet work - "refreshing on a hot day", says the BTCV, which has learned to look on the bright side. Or you can cut meadows at Highgate Cemetery, north London, on July 14.

For details of these projects, contact the London BTCV office on 020 7278 4294.

The trust's website,, has other local group contacts and suggestions for weekend breaks and working holidays this summer. Ideas for more than 500 residential tasks in the UK and overseas include wildlife monitoring in Thailand, dry stone walling in Yorkshire and coastal conservation in Mexico.

Also see the website, tel: 01491 821600 or email: for details of how BTCV can work with your school.

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