Take part in Reforesting Iceland and Helping with Ecological Restoration

Volunteers are needed to help with ecological restoration and reforestation in the region of Úlfljótsvatn lake in the southwest of Iceland. Úlfljótsvatn is situated south of the beautiful, Þingvellir national park. Parts of the area have been heavily eroded or degraded and are in an urgent need of attention. Volunteers will assist with the reforesting in the area, by planting seedlings and by fertilising young trees.  Places are available for 5 volunteers to join in May and September.

You can join for 2 weeks and we have places available in May and September.

Individuals and students all welcome.

Costs for accommodation in a shared volunteer house, food, local transport, training and support start from £575.

Sunset over mountains in IcelandVolunteers doing reforestation workVolunteers planting treesView of Ulf where the volunteers liveTree saplingsTree nursery View of Icelandic landscapeView of Þingvellir National ParkClose to where the volunteers live and workView of Þingvellir National ParkFertiliser being used to feed the plantsView from farmhouse of cross gifted by the PopeVolunteer farmhouseVolunteer team at work

Ulf volunteers live hereThe Project

Iceland is one of the most deforested countries in Europe. At the time of settlement (9th century) an estimated quarter of the country was covered by birch woodlands, whereas today forests only cover a little over 1%.  The forests were felled for timber, cleared for agriculture by burning and grazed by domestic animals brought by the settlers. Together with the harsh climate, volcanic activity and vulnerable soil formation, this forest clearance led to massive forest destruction and subsequent soil erosion. The necessity of engaging in some sort of remedial actions has long been known, but organised forestry as such only began around the turn of the 20th century. Early on much of the focus was on conserving the existing forest remnants, but since about 1950, the emphasis has been on reforestation through planting trees.

The Icelandic Forestry Association (IFA) was founded in 1930 and has been aiding this cause ever since, and recently started working in an area around Úlfljótsvatn lake in the southwest of Iceland.  Úlfljótsvatn is situated south of the beautiful, Þingvellir national park. Parts of the area have been heavily eroded or degraded and is in an urgent need of attention.  This is where the volunteers are needed!  Volunteers will assist with the reforesting in the area, by planting seedlings and by fertilizing young trees.

We need two groups of 5 short term volunteers, who will team up with long term volunteers already working in the area. The volunteers will live in a farm situated next to the lake. The teams will be led by a qualified and experienced team supervisor who is both educated in forestry and biology.

No previous experience of this work is necessary as training will be provided by experienced leaders. The working day normally runs from 09:00 – 17:00 with breaks for lunch and coffee.  Travelling to and from the work area will be via a car.  All volunteers should consider Iceland has famously unpredictable weather and should bring with them appropriate outdoor clothing. Good shoes, wind blocking over garments and insulating (not cotton) inner clothing.

This project can give you an opportunity to make an environmental difference, plant trees that will bind carbon from the atmosphere, create shelter for other life and battle soil erosion.

Dates & Costs

Volunteering in Úlfjótsvatn is available for durations of 2 weeks. You will be in groups of 5 volunteers, with additional 5 long-term volunteers already working in the area.  There will be two dates conducted in 2019, which are:

20th May to 2nd June 2019 - 3 places
2nd to 15th September 2019 - 2 places


To volunteer in Úlfljótsvatn, the cost for the 2 week program is £575 and which covers all project costs, including all food, accommodation, equipment provided for the project (not personal), facilities, all training and supervision by project manager and volunteers, WorkingAbroad Projects backup and placement support.

Volunteer in Iceland bedroomFood, Lodging & Travel

The volunteers´camp is situated in Úlfljótsvatn. Participants should be aware that the camp is located in the countryside and not in a city. It is to the south of the national park of Þingvellir and in the area of the so called "Golden circle" of Iceland (including geysers, waterfall and beautiful nature area). The IFA owns land in Úlfljótsvatn with buildings used for work and housing. The volunteers will have a fully equipped house with single or group sleeping rooms. The house has all the comforts of a modern house, (etc. dishwasher, washing machine, dryer) and is located in a very beautiful countryside area. Internet connection will be provided.

Kitchen for volunteers in IcelandVery close to the house is located a scout camp area and camping area. In this area there is always a lot of activities. IFA and the neighbour camp managers work in cooperation, therefore the volunteers have the opportunity to enjoy the leisure facilities of the camp (fishing, sailing on the lake, outdoor sport fields...).

It takes only 20 minutes to drive to the town of Selfoss where all services are provided. During camp volunteers will drive there with the supervisor to buy food. Volunteers will cook together in a group for themselves. In the farmhouse there is a kitchen with a stove oven, and two fridges.

The meeting point for the commencement of the programme is on the Monday of your start date at 10:00 in BSÍ (https://www.bsi.is) bus terminal in Reykjavík. The project supervisor will pick you up there and drive you to Úlfljótsvatn.

Type of volunteers needed
Participants should first of all be interested in nature and physical outdoor work. This project is open to people of all nationalities and backgrounds, however there is no adapted frame for physically and mentally disabled people. Once training is completed participants need to be able to work and live on their own in a responsible manner. The main point is the maturity of the participants (not age) and their physical ability to carry out demanding tasks outdoors. Participants need to be able to communicate well in English since it is the working language.  Volunteers should be between 18 to 35 years old, fit, healthy and capable of carrying out work in all conditions in a cold and wet climate.  No specific skills are needed but strong self-motivation is key.

All volunteers should consider that Icelandic weather can be demanding and should bring with them appropriate outdoor clothing. Good shoes, wind blocking overgarments and insulating (not cotton) inner clothing. The project manager will provide the volunteers with heavy duty waterproof pants and jacket, working gloves, and all the tools needed for work.  All accommodation needs are already in Úlfljótsvatn, so no need to bring duvets/pillows etc. 

Free Time
In the surrounding area there are options to hike and trek to the small mountain "Búrfell" which you can see out side the kitchen window. In Úlfljótsvatn there is also a scout camp, and the volunteers have the option to use their facilities. These include a folf course (Frisbee golf), football field/goals, outdoor grilling facilities etc. In the storage room is also a ping pong table thats usually very popular.  In addition, Þingvellir National Park is just next door, and then Geysir and Gullfoss (Golden falls) are about an hour away by car.

Health, weather
The gulf stream and the south-westerly winds from the Atlantic give Iceland a mild temperature. However, the unfortunate side is that this warm air creates condensation which often results in rain. So volunteers should be prepared for rainy conditions, with occasional sunny spells. Temperatures in the summer average about 12 degrees celsius.

Healthcare service and pharmacies can be located in Selfoss, 20 min drive from Úlfljótsvatn. Durning work, there is always a emergency kit in the cars, but volunteers are required to bring with them any medication they will need during the project length.

About Iceland

Iceland is a country filled with legend, sagas, rich history and folkore, and its wild landscape contains mist-filled volcanoes, glaciers, geysers, hot springs, dramatic valleys and waterfalls everywhere you look. The first impression when you come to Iceland is that you are stepping into an unknown landscape, not unlike that of the Moon! The winters provide a spectacle of the Aurora Borealis and in the summers, the sun never goes down and shines at midnight.

The Golden Circle of Iceland

The Golden Circle (Icelandic: Gullni hringurinn) is a popular tourist route in southern Iceland, covering about 300 kilometres (190 mi) looping from Reykjavík into the southern uplands of Iceland and back. It is the area that contains most tours and travel-related activities in Iceland.

The three primary stops on the route are the Þingvellir National Park, the Gullfoss waterfall, and the geothermal area in Haukadalur, which contains the geysers Geysir and Strokkur. Though Geysir has been mostly dormant for many years, Strokkur continues to erupt every 5–10 minutes. Other stops include the Kerið volcanic crater, the town of Hveragerði, Skálholt cathedral, and the Nesjavellir and Hellisheiðarvirkjun geothermal power plants.

How to Join

If you are interested in volunteering in Iceland, you will need to fill out the online application form. To secure a placement on the project, please complete and submit the form, including your application payment of £195. If for some reason, your application is not accepted, we will reimburse this payment fully. However, for those who are accepted, the full amount needs to be paid 6 weeks before arrival. Once we have confirmed your place, you will receive pre-departure information with all detailed information on the project, suggested items to bring etc.

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