In today's world, everyone is aware of the need to be eco conscious and make sustainable choices in our lives. We all know only too well the harm that is being done to our environment. Forrest are disappearing at an alarming rate, more and more flora and fauna are becoming extinct and animals and people alike are losing their homes and their way of life.
Volunteering in environmental conservation overseas means that you can help to protect the environment and make a difference in some of the regions of the world that need it the most. If you are a greenie at heart and want nothing more than to trek through rainforests and see some of the most remote corners of the globe then environmental volunteering is for you.
Environmental volunteering is a broad topic and there really is something for everyone. Some projects involve really getting your hands dirty in the jungle, but if this does not sound like your thing there are also plenty of other ways to get involved. A big part of environmental conservation is raising awareness about the reasons why the environment is important and should be protected.
This includes teaching in schools and running workshops and trainings with local communities. Many projects will cover your food and board whilst on placement and if not charge only a small fee but flights, in country travel, visas, vaccinations and other costs will be those of the volunteer. Most projects will provide volunteers with the necessary training and this kind of volunteering is a great way to learn new skills and potentially ignite a new passion.
Forestry: Around the world there are reforestation projects currently underway to attempt to combat the depleting forests. Many of these projects need volunteers to assist with tree planting, soil preparation, trail maintenance, seed gathering, cataloguing of flora and fauna as well as research. If the idea of trekking through the jungle to base camp, sleeping in a wooden shack and seeing some of the most remote areas of the world is your idea of a good time then this type of volunteering is certainly for you.
Education: One main aspect of environmental conservation is educating the local communities about the importance of protecting the environment. There are many projects around the world that specialize in running workshops in schools and with local farmers and communities about how to use natural resources sustainably and the importance of doing so.
Eco reserves/national parks: In many places big stretches of forests have been set aside as eco reserves to protect the flora and fauna. There are many projects that require volunteers to help run the reserves and carry out vital research. Tasks can include anything from tracking birds and monkeys, conducting field research and monitoring to helping out with plant cultivation.
Marine: Not limited to just forests and jungles the marine environment under water is also suffering from environmental degradation. Volunteers are needed to conduct underwater research and monitoring so if you have your dive certification this one if for you. If spending your days below the surface doesn’t appeal then never fear, there are plenty of projects that focus on looking after sea from land. This includes beach clean ups, on shore research and monitoring as well as education.
In reality the environment needs protecting in some way of another everywhere in the world. Yet it is most often in the developing world where the environment is shifted down the priority list.
Africa- The African continent is rich with an array of biodiversity that people have marveled at for centuries. Yet it is also under threat from an array of environmental factors. Many animals are under threat from extinction from poaching so the protection of nature reserves is really important. Volunteers are in need to help on the reserves, providing environmental education and also on the coast.
Latin America- The Amazon Rainforest, spanning eight countries and taking up 40% of the Latin continent is disappearing and under threat. There are many groups working within the countries that the Amazon falls under to try and protect it. You can really take your pick of the destination that intrigues you the most. Most of these projects are in remote areas and work with local staff so its also a great way to learn or improve your Spanish whilst also protecting the environment.
South East Asia- Deforestation is spreading like wildfire through the jungles of South East Asia. In particular Indonesia’s biodiversity is disappearing rapidly due to the demand for palm oil. Many animals are on the verge of extinction in South East Asia as their habitats are disappearing. Environmental conservation volunteers are needed to work on all sorts of fields from eco centres, forest conservation to education.
Planning Your Trip
- WWF: The World Wildlife Fund is a leader around the world in conservation efforts. This organization is currently focusing on thirteen key areas including the Amazon and Forest and Climate issues.
- NRDC: The Natural Resources Defense Council is another important organization in the conservation world. They focus on many large scale issues including defending wildlife and reviving the world's oceans.
- Traffic.org: Traffic.org is a collaboration of organisations aimed to monitor the trafficking of plants and animals around the world
Contributed by Morgan Pettersson