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Gap Year Volunteering: Conservation Projects

Is this the right type of Gap year program for me?

If you have a love for protecting the natural environment, enjoy being outdoors, have a reasonable level of fitness and are prepared to undertake some hard manual labour, then a conservation project is the ideal choice!

You also need to have a positive attitude, and be able to work as part of a team.

Most conservation projects do not require you to have any relevant skills and experience, although some projects ask that you have a basic grasp of a particular language in order to participate, e.g. Spanish.

This kind of project is a great option if you are applying for an environment-related subject at university and/or wish to work with animals for your career.

It will also look good on your CV to potential employers when you apply for jobs.

What will I do during my Conservation Gap year project?

This depends to a certain extent on exactly which conservation project you volunteer for, and the animal(s) it involves.

In general, most projects will require you to aid with:

  • Planting new trees and crops
  • Constructing and maintaining trails
  • Promoting environmental education in the local community
  • Taking visitors on guided tours
  • Feeding animals and cleaning their enclosures
  • Animal behaviour monitoring programmes

There are likely to be other duties involved that vary between different projects, so check the details on each individual project webpage or contact the gap year company for more specific information on what you’ll be up to.

How long can I volunteer for?

For most projects, you can volunteer for as little as 2 weeks, or up to 12 weeks.

There are even some that allow you to volunteer for 12 months, although be careful, as some projects require you to volunteer for a minimum amount of time (usually 2 weeks or 1 month).

The length of time you spend volunteering may be determined by your budget, or if you have other gap year plans you wish to fit around it, such as retaking A levels or travelling.

Either way, it’s entirely your decision.

How much does it cost?

This depends on how long you wish to volunteer for, where you go and which gap year agency you choose your project with.

You can expect to pay between £400 and £700 for a 2 week period and up to £3,700 for a 12 week stay.

Prices can vary greatly between individual projects and gap year agencies.

It’s a good idea to look at different agencies that offer the same or similar project you would like to do, and compare prices in case one is slightly cheaper than another.

However, whichever one you decide on, it is important to check exactly what the cost includes.

Beware that fees for most projects will not include flights, visas, travel insurance, food and any extra activities or excursions during the programme.

So work out how much more money this will be on top of the project fee before booking a placement, because if it turns out to be more than you’ve budgeted, then you could lose your deposit if you have to pull out.

Read our Gap year guide for more help on deciding which gap year agency to use.

Where can I volunteer for a Conservation project?

Due to the large number of gap year companies now in operation, there are opportunities for taking part in conservation projects all over the world.

From protecting elephants in Namibia or conserving sea turtles in Costa Rica, there’s a conservation project out there suited to everyone!