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Environment Conservation Volunteering & Ecotourism Holidays

Nick Callos
Written By
By Nick Callos
Writer
VolunteerForever
Edited By
By Munira Maricar
Travel Writer
environmental conservation volunteer abroad

Passionate about preserving our planet?

Put that passion to good use by becoming an eco-volunteer.

As ecotourism and environmental experts note, the earth faces a myriad of challenges in the 21st century. Now’s the time to act. Your help can turn the tide.

When you start looking through environment conservation volunteering programs and ecotourism holidays, the sheer number of options may overwhelm you. Don’t panic! We’re here to help you sift through the thousands of choices you have.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to what environmental work opportunities entail and highlight all the high-quality, reputable programs for ecotourism volunteering.

Read on!

What Can You Do as a Conservation Volunteer

Projects Abroad, a leader in eco-friendly volunteer vacations and environmental initiatives, sums up your overall goal well. As they write, you can join “ongoing efforts to support long-term, positive change in endangered environments.”

environmental conservation in South Africa

Research from institutions like the United Nations shows the urgency of environmental issues. Water scarcity, land degradation, loss of biodiversity, and climate change have become major problems. Statistics like these alarm:

  1. In Latin America, nitrous oxide emissions rose 29% in the first decade of this century.
  2. Over the last century, deaths attributable to natural disasters in the Asia-Pacific region accounted for 91% of the world’s deaths attributable to natural disasters.
  3. In Africa, millions of hectares of land are reported to be degraded due to pollution, deforestation, salinization, and soil erosion.
  4. In the Arctic, warming has increased at double the global average since 1980.

Clearly, your help is needed. But how can you best be of service?

Begin by thinking about where you want to go. Environmental work opportunities and ecotourism holidays abound in megadiverse countries within the following regions:

  1. The Americas: the United States, Mexico, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Peru, Colombia, Brazil
  2. Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Madagascar
  3. Southeast Asia and Oceania: India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Fiji, the Philippines
  4. Europe: Greece, Italy, Spain

Environment conservation volunteering in countries like these aims to protect their amazing biodiversity and ensure sustainable development.

In addition to choosing a destination, think about what you want to do as a conservation volunteer. Your role really depends on your skills, preferences, and future goals.

For instance, if you want to be a veterinarian, care for rescued, injured, and lost wildlife in South Africa (offered by African Impact). Or, if you hope to work in sustainable agriculture, lend a hand on a farming project in Latin America.

volunteer to help the environment

No matter how you help, you can make an impact. Here’s a list of the different types of conservation volunteer vacations (with example programs!):

  1. Marine Conservation: Protect sea turtles in Bali with IVHQ, or go on a marine conservation expedition in Fiji with Projects Abroad.
  2. Coastline Conservation: Lead beach cleanups throughout the world. Head to New Zealand with International Volunteer HQ, and do important research to help improve coastal preservation strategies.
  3. Jungle Conservation: Preserve the Amazon rainforest in Peru with Maximo Nivel.
  4. Wildlife Conservation: Join Global Vision International in places like Thailand, where you can volunteer with elephants, and Costa Rica, where you track jaguars.
  5. Sustainable Farming: Help farmers in Nepal develop a sustainable agriculture operation.
  6. Sustainable Development: Support Indigenous Communities around the world and help maintain their traditional practices.

Now that you know where you can go and what you can do, let’s review some of the best conservation volunteering programs.

Featured Ecotourism Volunteer Programs

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

Established in 2007 and trusted by institutions like UCLA and Northwestern University, International Volunteer HQ is among the best volunteer abroad organizations. They have an abundance of high-quality, affordable service opportunities, and have sent more than 100,000 volunteers and travelers abroad.

PADI Open Water Certifications & Internships

If you want to volunteer on a conservation initiative, IVHQ has lots of options for you, from an environmental sustainability project in New Orleans, USA to environmental education in Ubud, Bali. Other popular projects include:

  1. Climate Change Volunteering in Rome: Help tackle climate change through tree planting, raising awareness, and supporting local non-profits. Enjoy Italy’s culture, cuisine, and architecture while making a meaningful impact in disadvantaged communities. Programs start bi-monthly.
  2. Conservation on the Island of Nosy Komba, Madagascar: Head to Nosy Komba, a breathtaking volcanic island off the coast. There, you can participate in marine conservation, turtle conservation, or forest preservation (your choice!).
  3. Environmental Conservation in Palawan, Philippines: Volunteer in the Philippines in the archipelagic province of Palawan. As a conservation volunteer, you’ll focus on mangrove rehabilitation. Mangroves serve as a habitat for nursing fish, as well as other marine life and birds. So, your help will benefit local biodiversity.

To look through all of IVHQ’s environment conservation volunteering opportunities, see the list on their site. IVHQ destinations for ecotourism holidays include Puerto Rico, Spain, Indonesia, New Zealand, and many others.

GoEco

With more than 150 projects throughout the world, including conservation initiatives that preserve unspoiled nature and build sustainable communities, GoEco has you covered when it comes to volunteering to help the environment. Founded in 2006, GoEco has earned lots of respect in the volunteering field.

volunteer in Italy

If you’re looking for ecotourism holidays abroad, look no further than GoEco’s adventures. With GoEco, you could:

  1. Help with coral reef conservation in the Maldives: Travel to the locally inhabited island of Naifaru, which sits within the Lhaviyani Atoll in the north of the Maldives. Engage in hands-on activities, learn from marine biologists, and raise awareness about turtle conservation. Enjoy snorkeling trips and explore uninhabited islands. Minimum commitment of two weeks. 
  2. Live aboard a boat and research dolphins off the coast of Italy: If you love the sea and dolphins, don’t miss this program. You’ll sail along the Italian coastline of Ischia, an absolutely stunning island. You’ll monitor dolphins, study their behavior, and record bioacoustics. How fun does that sound? 

In addition to ecotourism holidays, GoEco provides other environment conservation volunteering opportunities.

For example, you could volunteer at a wildlife orphanage in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. There, you’ll have the opportunity to work with one of Africa’s most successful wildlife rehabilitation centers. Get up close with hyenas, cheetahs, monkeys, and other animals as you help them recover. You’ll also assist with releases and promoting ethical wildlife interactions. And during off-hours, you can enjoy the beauty of Matobo National Park.

To see all of GoEco’s environmental initiatives, head to their site. Search according to your preferences for location and activity, and you’ll find something that suits you.

Maximo Nivel

Established in 2003, Maximo Nivel is a leader in volunteering abroad in Latin America. Their projects emphasize community development, education, and environmental protection.

If you want to volunteer for conservation in Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru, consider Maximo Nivel as a top choice. Their programs make a big impact and have an affordable price tag. You may even be able to earn college credit through your volunteer service or intern work (inquire with your university first).

gap year programs in Peru

Maximo Nivel’s conservation projects cover four areas:

  1. Sea Turtle Conservation: Do nightly patrols, tag turtles, relocate nests, and more. You can choose to protect sea turtles in either Costa Rica or Guatemala. Both programs offer you the chance to explore a wonderful city (San Jose, Costa Rica, or Antigua, Guatemala), learn some Spanish, and visit beautiful beaches.
  2. Jungle Reforestation: Journey to Peru’s Amazon jungle, one of the most biologically diverse places in the world. Unfortunately, the forest faces threats stemming from the exploitation of natural resources and human encroachment. As a conservation volunteer, you’ll help with reforestation, remove invasive plant species, monitor wildlife, and more. And you’ll help keep one of the world’s last primary forests in its original state.
  3. Organic Farming: Calling all coffee lovers! Assist local coffee growers in developing a sustainable eco-friendly operation. Not only will you gain hands-on experience in eco-agriculture, but you can also taste the coffee every day! Locations include the Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica; farmland just outside Antigua, Guatemala; and the Huyro Region of Peru (in the highlands of the Amazon rainforest).
  4. Natural Reserve and Beach Conservation: Travel to the Nicoya Peninsula on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. There, you’ll work at a national park, doing everything from trail maintenance to guiding English-speaking visitors, as well as caring for the beaches. During off-hours, hike, sunbathe, scuba dive, and more.

Note: Pricing for Maximo Nivel’s programs varies by location.

Projects Abroad

With hundreds of volunteer abroad opportunities across Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and Europe, few organizations have the variety of programs Projects Abroad does. Since 1992, they have now sent more than 10,000 volunteers, interns, and students overseas each year.

VolunteerForever

Projects Abroad has an excellent reputation. That’s evident in the quality of their conservation programs. You can make a lasting impact by volunteering with Projects Abroad, whether you want to protect giraffes in Kenya or preserve the marvelous ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands.

Perhaps the most unique offering of Projects Abroad is their Marine Conservation Volunteering program in Thailand. Earn a PADI Advanced Open Water and Peak Performance Buoyancy Certification while aiding in critical marine conservation efforts. Live on Koh Tao, explore stunning beaches, and contribute to coral propagation, underwater surveys, and beach clean-ups. No experience is needed! This is your chance to make a real impact on marine life.

If you want to see all of Projects Abroad environmental protection projects and ecotourism holidays, visit their site! Learn about marine conservation volunteering in Argentina, shark conservation in Fiji, and more.

African Impact

Join African Impact for an environmental volunteering experience that puts you on the front lines of climate action. Engage in grassroots efforts to combat climate change, promote environmental education, and support sustainable practices. Volunteer in stunning African landscapes, from reforestation projects in Kenya to plastic waste reduction in Zambia

VolunteerForever

Work alongside dedicated environmentalists and like-minded volunteers, contributing to meaningful, long-term solutions. Enjoy incredible African travel experiences while making a tangible impact on the environment and local communities.

Involvement Volunteers International (IVI)

Involvement Volunteers International (IVI) offers numerous opportunities for individuals to contribute to preserving our planet through their diverse range of conservation projects. Whether you have experience or not, IVI welcomes anyone with a passion for making a difference. 

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These projects are ideal for those who love getting hands-on and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. IVI’s projects span from Amazon rainforest conservation, eco-park conservation, and mangrove conservation to beach cleaning, marine conservation, and deforestation efforts. Each project offers a unique opportunity to contribute to the planet’s well-being.

With a wide range of projects and destinations, affordable placements, and a long history of successful volunteer programs, IVI provides an exceptional opportunity for anyone looking to contribute to environmental conservation efforts.

Volunteering Solutions (VolSol)

Volunteering Solutions (VolSol) offers meaningful and affordable environmental conservation programs worldwide. Whether you are a high school or college student, gap year traveler, or backpacker, VolSol provides opportunities to contribute to making the world a better place. 

VolunteerForever

VolSol’s environmental conservation programs cover a wide range of activities and locations. Here are some highlights:

  • Forest Conservation in Madagascar: Located on Nosy Komba Island, this program focuses on protecting the unique flora and fauna of the region. Volunteers can participate for 2 to 12 weeks, contributing to preserving this vital ecosystem.
  • Turtle and Environment Conservation in Costa Rica: This project, based on the Osa Peninsula, involves conserving sea turtle nesting beach habitats. Volunteers can join for 1 to 8 weeks, working on community-driven conservation efforts.
  • Beach Conservation in Ghana: In Axim, volunteers engage in environmental protection, nature conservation, recycling, and educational work for 4 to 16 weeks. This program is crucial for maintaining the local coastal environment.
  • Coral Restoration & Sea Turtle Conservation in South Tanzania: Volunteers in Mtwara work on restoring coral reefs and conserving sea turtles through scuba diving activities. This program lasts 2 to 12 weeks and offers a hands-on marine conservation experience.
  • Environmental Conservation in Sri Lanka: Located in Galle, this project includes various initiatives aimed at environmental preservation and education. Volunteers can participate for 1 to 16 weeks.
  • Horse Patrolling and Environmental Conservation in Portugal: In Porto, volunteers work with an NGO to support environmental education and conservation projects. This program lasts 1 to 12 weeks and involves unique activities such as horse patrolling.
  • Coral Reef Restoration and Scuba Diving in North Bali: Volunteers join a local diver team in Pemuteran to monitor and maintain coral reefs. This program lasts 2 to 8 weeks and focuses on marine ecosystem preservation.
  • Rainforest Conservation in Costa Rica: Located in the Caribbean Rainforest, this project involves protecting and studying a private reserve of 140 hectares. Volunteers can join for 2 to 12 weeks to help conserve this critical habitat.
  • Underwater Conservation in Barcelona: Volunteers scuba dive to explore and protect underwater environments. This program lasts 1 to 12 weeks and offers an exciting opportunity to contribute to marine conservation efforts.

By joining VolSol’s conservation programs, you will not only contribute to protecting our planet but also gain invaluable experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.

Global Vision International (GVI)

Global Vision International (GVI) offers climate change volunteer programs that focus on mitigating environmental damage through hands-on activities. Participants travel to at-risk areas to support long-term ecosystem health.

GVI’s initiatives involve monitoring critical ecosystems and collecting data on physical, ecological, and human factors. Activities include coral reef conservation, forest ecosystem protection, waste management, and promoting sustainable lifestyles. 

coronavirus outbreak volunteering abroad

In Costa Rica, volunteers focus on forest biodiversity and species protection. In Fiji, the emphasis is on coral reef health amid rising sea levels. Madagascar’s projects target coastal and forest conservation. In Mexico, efforts support the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. In Seychelles, activities address coastal erosion and coral reef monitoring. In Thailand, volunteers help reduce plastic pollution and protect coastal ecosystems.

GVI partners with local organizations, government institutions, and NGOs to ensure effective conservation efforts. By volunteering with GVI, participants contribute to critical climate action, gain valuable experience, and help protect the planet for future generations.

Making Your Ecotourism Holiday Happen

Ready to protect our world’s most precious natural ecosystems?

For further help in ensuring your conservation volunteer experience goes wonderfully, use our other resources. For instance, you can lower the costs of your eco-volunteer adventure by engaging in fundraising efforts – it’s easier than you think!

Hopefully, that gives you all you need to enjoy eco-friendly travel and conservation volunteering. Now go apply to a program and get your trip started!