EuCAN Community Interest Company grew out of a Leonardo da Vinci (European Union Lifelong Learning Programme) funded project which began in 2007 through the west Dorset charity The Kingcombe Trust and in association with Butterfly Conservation in Dorset. The aim of this was to bring together peoples from different countries of the EU to work together on conservation projects – practical habitat management and biodiversity surveying – and to involve as many people as possible from the local communities. We feel that this makes a great deal of sense ecologically, culturally and politically, that the major environmental challenges that we face should be dealt with together, sharing knowledge, skills, and experience
Since 2007, nearly 300 volunteers have visited 11 partner organisations on 23 different two-week placements, and an active network has grown with regular communication via email, an effective website and opportunities for people to join in reunion, dissemination and training weekends where we put their new skills to good use on local nature reserves.
In 2010, The Kingcombe Trust was dissolved and absorbed into another charity, so in February 2011 we established EuCAN as an independent non-profit Community Interest Company which will enable us to be involved in community conservation projects in the UK as well as abroad, and to work on our training and sustainable agriculture activities more effectively.
In 2011, two groups travelled to work on conservation projects for our partners – one group visited the Picos de Europa in northern Spain and the other travelled to Romania to carry out butterfly surveys in two areas of Transylvania.
In 2012 EuCAN began a number of community-based projects in the UK, primarily working with mental health service users on important sites for butterflies in Dorset and Somerset. We also branched out into working on commercial habitat management contracts with our successful contract for Butterfly Conservation in Neroche forest. We are using this commercial work to support our conservation projects and to give our trainees further experience. Another very important development in 2012 was the merger with the Mid-week Volunteers in Dorset, formerly known as the BTCV Mid-week group, now the EuCAN Dorset Mid-week Volunteers (DMV). The DMV carry out conservation contracts using volunteers for a number of different user bodies in Dorset and operate as an independent entity but under the legal and insurance umbrella of EuCAN CIC.
2013 saw the formation of our EuCAN Milverton Volunteers in Somerset, an expansion in the activities of the EuCAN-DMV group based in south Dorset, further habitat management contracts and the second and even more successful phase of the Cerne Valley Community Landscape Project. We set up training courses during the year in brushcutter operation (x2) and wildflower identification and continued to maintain our network of contacts established through our European partnerships since 2007. The logging and apple juicing enterprises blossomed.
In 2014 another ex-BTCV group came under the umbrella of EuCAN CIC – the EuCAN Somerset Volunteers was launched in winter 2014 and has been meeting regularly since then. We also embarked on a new aspect to the business – we ran our first Wildlife Holiday – to La Brenne in central France. With a very good group, lovely hosts, wonderful wildlife and the experience of running working trips to this area many times since 2007, this holiday was a great start – and made a modest profit with which we were able to subsidise a practical conservation visit to the area in February 2015.