Tom Whalley: Small microvolunteering tasks that everyone can do to help maintain our paths

In honour of Saturday being International Microvolunteering Day, Tom, our Community Paths Development Officer, shares some ideas on how to look after your favourite paths

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Two years ago I wrote a blog about some litter picking my son and I had been doing on one of our local paths.  Well this time I’d like to tell you about a different type of micro-volunteering that we’ve been up to during the Easter holidays.  It’s something you can do with just some gloves and a pair of garden secateurs.

As we come into spring and summer you may notice your favourite paths becoming overgrown by branches from trees and bushes.  While you should leave larger jobs to your local community paths group, or the council, anyone can get stuck in and trim a few  small branches or brambles that are growing across paths and causing an obstruction.  Before you start you, must make sure to check that you aren’t disturbing nesting birds.

Make sure you’re wearing gloves and use your secateurs to snip the branch as close to the node as possible.  The secateurs should be opened wide and the branch placed at the centre of the blade – don’t be tempted to snip with the tip of the blade as this can bend and warp the secateurs.  If the branch is too large for your secateurs you will need to use a different tool (such as loppers) or leave the job to someone else.

Now that you’re left holding a branch or two what should you do with them?  Well why not do something for nature and also give your wellbeing a boost.  Using your secateurs snip the branches into manageable lengths and arrange them in a bundle together lengthwise.  Now find somewhere on the ground, off the path and out of the way, to place the branches.  You’ve not just got rid of the waste material – you’ve created “habitat pile”, a valuable home for wee beasties.  Research from the University of Derby shows that one of the 5 pathways to nature connection is ‘compassion’ (  You’ve not only created something for wildlife, but you probably feel pretty good about it too.

For more information on small tasks you can do to help maintain your local paths check out this page on our website: