“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead

Our project groups

Opportunities big and small – we need you! Be part of the solution.

Our project working groups are made up of volunteers with support from the Sustainable Swanage Project Officer. Whether you have a little or a lot of time or experience, we need supporters on every level, from helping to spread the word and share the messages to leading on a project, or creating a new one, it all helps.

Get in touch if you would like to get involved, see projects for individual contact details. If you see a gap for a new project and think you can help, let us know.

Big Summer Wildlife Search - Bioblitz

This summer we are encouraging people to join us in making wildlife count. It is really important to spot and record wildlife, if we know what we have and how it is doing we can better appreciate it and look after it. With so many people becoming disconnected to the environment through our modern way of life, we are passionate about providing opportunities for people to better understand and protect the nature in their local environment. A Bioblitz event is a great way to satisfy both aims, a bioblitz is recording as much wildlife as you can in a defined area in a specific time frame and provides a snapshot of nature at that time. information (opens in new window)

Butterfly Survey Group

Butterflies are a good indicator of the health of the habitat and a great way for volunteers to be involved. As part of our support of the Town Councils Environment Action Plan goal of assessing and monitoring biodiversity of their sites, Sustainable Swanage set up a training and survey programme for butterfly monitoring. 12 volunteers attended a training session in May 2021 and now take part in regular surveys at 3 public green spaces including the Downs and Prospect Green.  Supported by Durlston Ranger team and Dorset Butterfly group, some of our volunteers now take part in surveys of other sites in the area. For more information on Dorset's butterflies see the website of the Dorset Branch of Butterfly Conservation.

Energy Group

Purbeck Energy Group is a subgroup of Sustainable Swanage and includes representatives from Sustainable Wareham and some of the Purbeck villages. It was set up in March 2020 with the aim of finding energy solutions that enable individuals, organisations and communities across Purbeck to reduce their carbon footprint.   The first project was investigating how to solar panels could be more affordable. In March 2021 they launched Solar Streets Swanage which enabled householders and businesses to install solar panels at a discount. The installer contributed £50 to a Community Fund for each installation. By the end of June 2022 there had been 90 enquires, 21 installations completed, and £1150 in the Community Fund. This was used to design a leaflet on how to save energy which was delivered to more than 11,000 houses in Purbeck. Click here for leaflet with weblinks In May 2022 Sustainable Wareham launched Solar Streets Wareham.

Greening Swanage

One of our first subgroups, Greening Swanage members take part in practical wildflower meadow creation, tree planting and tree maintenance for planting and greening schemes around the town. This is both in public spaces but also they support churches and schools in their schemes also. Volunteers also get involved in the planning and design of new planting sites and promoting the benefits of habitat creation and wildlife gardening through events, displays and trails. Always welcoming new members who can help in a variety of tasks from practical, landscape design, graphic design and running events.

Peveril Point and the Downs Local Nature Reserve

We have been working with the Town Council in the process of designating the Downs as an Local Nature Reserve and are pleased to share the news that it is now official! On 15th April 2023 we will hold the Launch event with a day of activities, guided walks and exhibitions.

We began wildlife surveys in July of 2020 and now have over 20 volunteers working on gathering important data for the site to support and feed into management plans and are currently carrying out our 2023 survey season including a regular weekly butterfly transect. Since the official launch, the site now has its own Friends of the Downs group which is hosted by the Town Council and supported by the Sustainable Swanage Project Officer. The group get involved in ecological surveys, guided walks and events and some practical tasks. This year the group hosted their first event, the Big Summer Search, which was a day of wildlife surveying in a Bioblitz and helped add dozens of new species to the site list.

Earlier work for the site involved carrying out a public survey on the site in January/February 2021 on behalf of the Town Council and presenting the findings to a public open meeting on 23rd March 2021.

Plastic Free Swanage

In July 2019 Swanage became the 4th Dorset Town to achieve ‘Plastic Free Community’ Status from the campaign run by the charity Surfers Against Sewage in recognition of the efforts being made to reduce single-use plastic in the town, read press release HERE for more info. One of the requirements for this award was to set up a steering group which was the basis for Sustainable Swanage and a key part in the group’s establishment. Coming together for a collective goal like this has kickstarted many other projects and initiatives.
More information (opens in new window)

Purbeck Repair Cafe

A partnership project between Sustainable Wareham and local artists this group is part of a network of projects aiming to help reduce the number of items being thrown in the bin by offering repairs and advice for items that are otherwise uneconomical to repair. Set up in spring 2022, the group so far have run several events for textile repair and with more volunteers are hoping to offer further repairs for items such as ceramics, bikes, furniture, electrical, clocks etc in the near future. Watch this space, in the meantime to find out more visit: Home | Repaircafe

Sustainable Businesses

This is another sub-group focused on supporting local businesses in achieving their goals whilst also becoming more sustainable.  It enables this by providing ideas, information, sources of funding and use cases.  The last event was in March 2022 which was attended by over 40 people, with 6 presentations and discussions.  Work for spring 2023 includes showcasing businesses in Swanage that are working towards being more sustainable.

Sustainable Transport

This sub-group works on projects and campaigns to encourage and enable more use of walking and cycling for short journeys instead of cars where possible. We are researching and working on several projects and campaigns including aiming to reduce idling by raising awareness, promoting walking to school/work, co-wheels car sharing initiative, installing bike racks and bike repair events. We also now co-ordinate a group of volunteers who are monitoring the footpaths and bridleways in conjunction with Dorset Council and Swanage Town Council. See the active travel plan HERE.
More information (opens in new window)

Swanage Community Pantry

A food waste project collecting good quality food that would otherwise go to waste from supermarkets and other food businesses and making it available to the community for free. Supported by a group of dedicated volunteers this project is hosted by the Swanage and Purbeck Development Trust. Sustainable Swanage worked with the group to set up and establish the project in April 2022 and are really pleased to see it continue and grow with more volunteers to help manage and run it. Swanage and Purbeck Development Trust | (
Contact:swanagecommunitypantry@gmail.comMore information (opens in new window)

Wildflower Survey Group

Following on from the success of the butterfly survey group, a new training and survey programme for wildflowers was set up in 2022 and we will continue with them in 2023. A species list for several sites has been compiled by a volunteer expert and this new survey team will be carrying out repeat surveys of sections of meadow on several sites, twice a year to help monitor the effects of adapted grassland mowing and cutting regimes. Complete beginners welcome and encouraged as training and on survey learning in small groups is provided.