Eco-volunteering holidays

As well as the personal benefits gained from taking a holiday (such as, having a break from the usual routine, relaxing and having fun) it can also be a time to benefit God’s world around us.  Taking a volunteering holiday (sometimes referred to as voluntourism) is a way of doing this and there are many different companies offering a wide variety of opportunities across the globe.

Conservation and environment volunteering holidays offer the opportunity to support a worthwhile cause, develop new skills, stay in a wonderful location and spend time with a group of like-minded people.  In general, volunteering holiday companies are committed to the principles of responsible tourism, which includes reducing environmental impacts and making a positive contribution to the local economy where the holiday is based.

Depending on the nature of the tasks some volunteering holidays are only suitable for adults while others cater for families and young people.  As well as one or two week holidays, several companies offer longer stays, or cater for young people on work experience or gap years.  Typically, accommodation is simple, staying in huts, hostels or guesthouses, with local families, or camping.

Close to home, the National Trust offers a variety of ‘working holidays’ to suit varied interests from wildlife surveys, gardening and woodland management to rebuilding paths, dry stone walling and constructing sheep pens.

Travelling further afield, a huge variety of conservation related volunteering holidays, that mix volunteering with adventure, are offered around the world.  Opportunities are available for individuals, families and groups to experience a new destination whilst making a worthwhile contribution to the local area.

Examples of projects include conserving endangered wildlife, learning to dive and helping with marine conservation and conserving elephants and learning how to ride them.  Companies offering global volunteering holidays include:

 

  • Global Vision international focusing on high impact projects that make long term, sustainable contributions towards key global and local issues. Their holidays aim to increase cultural understanding and awareness of global issues and equip people with the knowledge and skills.

 

  • Projects Abroad offers volunteer projects, work experience placements, and language courses. The company places people in ongoing projects and so there are no fixed start dates and holidays are flexible.

 

  • Responsible Travel offers ethical holidays including volunteer travel. Volunteer holidays are with specialist and responsible tour operators that are committed to supporting local communities and the environment.

 

  • At home or abroad, WWOOF matches volunteers with organic farms that need workers, volunteers have to arrange their own trip but usually get free, basic accommodation on the farm. WWOOF also offer taster days.

Alternatively, regular or occasional days of practical or office volunteering can be integrated with normal life or a holiday at home by helping the St. Luke’s Garden or Maintenance Teams, or with task days run by organisations such as:

Adapted with permission from an article from the Wye Church Eco-congregation working group.

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