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Environment & Wildlife

Top 13 wildlife & environmental conservation volunteer projects in 2022

October 23rd 2021

Tagged: Conservation, Environment, Volunteer projects, Volunteering Abroad, Wildlife

We are fast approaching the end of 2021, which has been another challenging year for much of the globe as countries slowly bring themselves out of the pandemic. We have all been affected by the global pandemic in one way or another, including our conservation projects located in some of the most remote places on Earth. Our projects have been affected hard by the lack of volunteers and interns who generally help them with their work.  Fortunately, a majority of countries are now open again for travellers, and we are excited to already have sent off a number of volunteers.

While we don’t expect complete normalcy in 2022, most of our projects are now accepting volunteers, with all the safety protocols in place. We have collected our TOP 13 volunteer projects to provide some inspiration for those who are eager to get out and work with wildlife and environmental conservation in the year to come. Volunteering for conservation has never been more important for the sake of our environment, wildlife, biodiversity and climate change. We are excited to welcome you back to our volunteer conservation projects!

1. Galapagos Conservation Volunteers

We loved every minute of it, learnt a lot and came away with much to reflect on” – Liz and Alex McVey, from the UK, volunteered for 2 weeks

Volunteer WorkingAbroadVolunteer Conservation | Volunteer Galapagos | Working AbroadThe Galapagos Conservation programme, based on Isabella Island, brings volunteers from around the world together to what is considered one of the world’s foremost destinations for wildlife-viewing. Here on the volcanic archipelago of Ecuador, volunteers assist on a range of wildlife conservation and environmental projects, working alongside local staff and giving back to the nature and people of this wondrous place.

Why this project made our list; Charles Darwin wrote of the Galapagos: “I never dreamed that islands, about fifty or sixty miles apart, and most of them in sight of each other, formed of precisely the same rocks, placed under a quite similar climate, rising to a nearly equal height, would have been differently tenanted”… meaning that the islands are extremely unique, diverse, and form an important part of life’s evolutionary history.  This programme enhances conservation through education and social development on an intimate, ground level. The human factor is key to making any progress locally, and that’s where the programme comes in. On Isabela Island, the local population approaches 3,000, and the need for conservation, education, and social development is increasing.

Find out more about this project here.


2. Playa Tortuga conservation volunteer project in Costa Rica

“We travelled around Costa Rica for a month and a family vote at the end of the holiday concluded that the Playa Tortuga project was the best and most rewarding part.” – The Lea Family

Scarlett macaws in Costa RicaVolunteer Sea Turtles | Volunteer Costa Rica | Working AbroadVolunteering at this project in Costa Rica will expose you to life at a biological research station in a tropical rainforest reserve. Volunteers will take part in sea turtle research, crocodile monitoring, mammal surveys, tree boa studies, environmental education and butterfly garden projects all year round.

Why this project made our list; This research project in Costa Rica is another highly popular project that receives lots of brilliant feedback from solo travellers and families alike every year. They manage to accommodate everyone on their journey to this biodiversity hotspot of Central America, where volunteers love that they have the opportunity to help actively with the scientific and conservation-related research on a broad range of animals, while experiencing the beautiful nature of Costa Rica in the process.

Find out more about this project here.

 

3. Ocean Spirits leatherback sea turtle volunteer project in Grenada

“I’m incredibly grateful to everyone at the project for their help and guidance throughout my time as a volunteer, and I’d definitely recommend the project to anyone interested in conservation or sea turtles!” – Lorraine Aldridge

Volunteer with day nesting leatherback sea turtleWork Grenada | Leatherback Sea Turtle Volunteer | Working AbroadOn this small Caribbean island of Grenada, volunteers take part in Leatherback sea turtle monitoring, research, and community outreach tasks. It is one of the few places in the world where this ancient dinosaur relative comes to nest each year, which provides volunteers the opportunity to witness this incredible giant sea turtle up close.

Why this project made our list; We have worked with Ocean Spirits for the past 15+ years, and volunteers continue to be in awe of the mere experience of witnessing these large dinosaur-related turtles up close. It is a great opportunity to be part of the research of the largest sea turtle species in the world, while gaining hands-on experience alongside marine biologists in a beautiful part of the Caribbean and help preserve the species for future generations.

Find out more about this project here.

 

4. Reforestation volunteer project in Iceland 

Overall, the program was so much better than I ever could have imagined. The team went above and beyond to ensure our 2 weeks on the farmhouse were not only productive and educational, but also memorable.” – Kasie Kirkpatrick

Working to plant trees in IcelandVolunteer Iceland | Tree Planting Iceland | Working AbroadIn the southwest of Iceland, volunteers on this project help with ecological restoration and reforestation in the Úlfljótsvatn lake region. Parts of the area have been heavily eroded or degraded and are therefore in urgent need of attention. Volunteers assist with the reforesting in the area by planting seedlings and fertilising young trees.

Why this project made our list; Another wildly popular project with volunteers that usually ends up fully booked every year. We receive great feedback from previous volunteers, who were also able to join this year in safe manner despite Corona. It is a great opportunity to not only help with important reforestation work in Iceland, but also to experience some of the rugged and wild beauty of the country in the meantime.

Find out more about this project here.

 

5. Desert elephant volunteer project in Namibia

“I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The staff were very friendly and professional, and I would highly recommend the project to anyone considering joining.” – Sam Taylor

Volunteers in truck with elephant in background in NamibiaVolunteer in Namibia | Volunteer with Elephants | Working AbroadVolunteers help track desert elephants and take part in community development work in the beautiful Damaraland region of the Namib Desert. Here, the desert-adapted elephants roam free, which volunteers will be directly involved in monitoring, while also building important infrastructure to protect water sources for both locals and wildlife to co-exist peacefully.

Why this project made our list; Few people can say that they have slept under the beautiful starry skies in the middle of a desert at night, while contributing with work that helps protect important water sources of local communities and wild elephants alike during the day. Yet, this is exactly the amazing opportunity that volunteers grab when joining this conservation project, which also offers the once in a lifetime experience of witnessing wild elephants and other wildlife roaming the desert landscapes of Namibia.

Find out more about this project here.

 

6. Kariega game reserve volunteer project in South Africa

“It was difficult when the time came to leave such a breath-taking place and remarkable people. Four weeks seemed like a long time when booking, but it flew past and I truly enjoyed every minute.” – Thomas Potter

Volunteers looking at view in KariegaKariega Game Reserve | Volunteer South Africa | Working AbroadAt this game reserve in South Africa, volunteers take part in lots of varied research and conservation work. From lion and elephant monitoring to rhino surveys, invasive species removal and local community projects. The project takes volunteers through the workings of a respected game reserve, and have them contribute to their efforts of protecting threatened wildlife and supporting local communities.

Why this project made our list; South Africa boasts of incredible wildlife with most always dreaming about witnessing the big 5 roaming the savannah like they always have. Volunteers at this project get to experience just that, while also joining a once in a lifetime opportunity to get behind the scenes of a game reserve and get involved with their important conservation efforts.

Find out more about this project here.

 

7. Dolphin research volunteer project in Greece

“The project was so amazing; it was the best experience of my life honestly. It also was so well put together and I learned so much. – Taylor Olshove

Volunteers with dolphins underwaterVolunteer Greece | Volunteer with Dolphins | Working AbroadMarine conservation volunteers in Greece get to actively participate in dolphin research every day out on the beautiful Ionian Sea. The research focuses particularly on the Bottlenose dolphin and the Short-Beaked Common dolphin found in the Amvrakikos Gulf and the Inner Ionian Sea archipelago.

Why this project made our list; This is a great opportunity to work with marine wildlife research and science, experiencing dolphins up close and record every detail. This all takes place in one of the most beautiful parts of Greece, and where you will find an incredible diversity of marine mammals compared to other places in the Mediterranean. Volunteers will through their work help local researchers provide a marine environment that provides long-term viability for the species found there, and help protect their future conservation which is under threat.

Find out more about this project here.

 

8. The Great African Seaforest Research Volunteer Programme, South Africa

My volunteer time on the Great African Sea Forest was great and one of a kind!”. – Madison Droste – August 2021

alttagVolunteer Cape Town | Marine Research | Working AbroadThe Great African Seaforest is the only forest of giant bamboo kelp (Ecklonia maxima) on our planet, home to extraordinary creatures, a great abundance of life, and rich biodiversity. Volunteers will participate in research projects monitoring the African kelp forests, shark and fish species of this spectacular underwater world.

Why this project made our list; Kelp forests are one of the most vulnerable ecosystems on the planet. This enormous Great African Seaforest habitat runs from South Africa’s False Bay, along the shores of Cape Town, and stretches north into Namibia. The life it harbours is so diverse that much of the Great African Seaforest and its inhabitants have yet to be studied. Volunteers will join a team of passionate marine biologists and conservationists in the field and get hands-on experience working on marine research and conservation projects. They will help with scientific monitoring projects, citizen science initiatives and explore the kelp forests whilst on fish and shark surveys with the research team.

Find out more about this project here.

 

9. Wolf conservation volunteer project in Portugal

“I would highly recommend this project. I fell in love with the wolves, the nature, the landscape, the food, the warmth of the Portuguese sun and the people at the center.” – Mayté Heymans

Wolves in Grass in Portugal Conservation projectVolunteer in Portugal | Wolf Conservation | WorkingAbroadIn these beautiful green parts of Portugal, volunteers help actively with the further conservation of the Iberian wolf. The sanctuary, located within a large forest near Mafra, is a place where rescued wolves that no longer can be in the wild, get to live their lives as wolves.

Why this project made our list; The Wolf conservation project has rescued wolves from illegal captivity and lives in ZOOs during the past two decades, to live their life roaming as freely as possible. These wolves become ambassadors for a species that have suffered severe prosecution in Europe through centuries, with the sanctuary also actively trying to change public attitudes about wolves. Something that volunteers can help with supporting this important project in Portugal.

Find out more about this project here.

10. Ocean conservation research volunteer project in South Africa

“I think that my stay at the project was an amazing and eye-opening experience that I will remember for the rest of my life and I am very grateful for the opportunity.” – Sofia Sokolowski

Conservation Volunteers collecting data on whales in South AfricaVolunteer in South Africa | Volunteer with Whales | Working AbroadThe Ocean Research project offers volunteers a very varied experience of work. Marine conservation volunteers get to work on dolphin and whale research tasks, assist with community education projects on the coastline, help with penguin rescue, seal monitoring as well as environmental projects, beach clean-ups and tree planting.

Why this project made our list; South Africa is well-known for its beautiful wildlife living on the savannahs, yet at this project, volunteers get a chance to witness all of the incredible marine wildlife of its surrounding ocean. A project that has brought many positive and new experiences for previous volunteers to engage with ocean research. From dolphins, seals and sharks to whales, orcas and penguins – this project offers volunteers a great chance to work with ocean research, as well as to engage with local communities to teach about the big blue and its wildlife for their future protection.

Find out more about this project here.

11. Statia Conservation Volunteer Project, St. Eustatius, Caribbean

“Enjoy the Caribbean lifestyle, protect and help a natural reserve, meet amazing people” – Sarah Perche, from France, volunteered for 1 month

alttagVolunteer Sint Eustatius | Volunteer Conservation | Working AbroadVolunteer in the Dutch Caribbean on the island of St. Eustatius, and join the St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation to help protect and conserve their National and Marine Parks. This programme provides the chance to experience the stunning island of St. Eustatiuswhile contributing to the protection of the terrestrial and marine parks of the island.

Why this project made our list; Support for environmental conservation has yet to take hold on Statia and volunteers can help with the progress that is being made. Providing access to the island’s natural attractions, especially to the young, aids in the development of ecological consciousness on which the lasting survival of the Sint Eustatius National Parks ultimately depends. The sea turtle conservation programme has now been running for over 18 years. Monitoring patrols for nesting turtles on Zeelandia Beach started in 2002, and increased in 2003 with a greater number of patrols due to the onset of the WorkingAbroad Volunteer programme!

Find out more about this project here.

 

12. Cloud forest conservation & sustainability volunteer project in Ecuador

“I spent an incredible month at the Cloud Forest project! […] The place was the most beautiful place I’ve ever been with the lush cloud forest nature. The tasks we did varied from taking care of the animals to trail maintenance and brewing coffee. A lot of different and fun things!” – Kerttu Kotakorpi

Conservation Volunteer jumping in Ecuador cloud forestCloud Forest Ecuador | Conservation Volunteering | Working AbroadVolunteers at this project help to conserve a part of the Ecuadorian cloud forest by participating in tree planting, trail work, research activities, sustainable living and food production as well as community projects and capuchin monkey research.

Why this project made our list; A popular project that protects an important forest habitat in Ecuador, and where living in a sustainable manner is at the very essence of volunteer work. This project offers a rare opportunity for volunteers to live in harmony with their surroundings. The way of life has less environmental impact, in a time where being better to the planet, protecting forest habitats, its resources and wildlife never have been more important.

Find out more about this project here.


13. Dolphin & Whale Research Volunteer Project, Portugal

“I had a great time on the program. The people were really nice and the atmosphere was a welcoming one. The work we have done was something that I would like to repeat, because I think it was a interesting and I learned a lot from it.” – Sophie Everarts

alttagVolunteer Portugal | Dolphin Research | Working AbroadVolunteer at the very edge of the Iberian Peninsula in southwest Europe with a combination of cultural, historic and natural treasures.  Albufeira is one of the most attractive and touristic areas in the Algarve, known for its famous beaches, intense nightlife, cultural events, beautiful surroundings, amazing weather and food.

Why this project made our list; This programme aims to be a reference for research, education and conservation of the environment in Portuguese waters, promoting activities and partnerships which empower our understanding of marine-related issues, identifying threats and mitigating their effects on marine wildlife. The project also works closely with local stakeholders, such as dolphin-watching companies, administration and authorities, other NGOs and public environmental institutions. Together, we conduct scientific research on environmental topics and try to promote a healthier and safer environment for marine species.

Find out more about this project here.

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