Volunteers play an important role in the management of natural habitats. Understanding what motivates volunteers to join conservation initiatives and how motivations change over time is essential to enhance the environmental and social benefits of their engagement. Using a repeated qualitative survey and semi-structured interviews, we explore volunteers’ initial and sustained motivations in the management of the invasive tree mallow (Lavatera arborea) on Scottish seabird islands. Caring for nature, the performance of volunteering activities, and social interactions were the main drivers of involvement. Over time, motivations were shaped by the interplay between individual expectations and experiences with the social and ecological context. They changed from identifiable functions to more complex attachments to the place and the group. We discuss the limitations of functional methodologies in making sense of these attachments and of the performative nature of environmental volunteering. We then explore the practical implications of the dynamics of volunteering motivations.
- invasive species
- habitat restoration