Joining Volunteers: Volunteering to Help Nature

Each of us can make our world cleaner and better for everybody. You can start with the shores of the nearest body of water. But if you want something more – go volunteering at one of the sanctuaries or national parks. «Places for heroism» exist in Russia and abroad, the main thing is to look right. Our advices will help you!

Why it is necessary

Many nature reserves, national parks and non-profit organizations simply do not have enough funds to hire additional staff, even for one season. At the same time, the experience of volunteering gives a lot – communion with nature and with people, who sincerely love nature, it is a journey into unexplored places and the acquisition of useful skills.

Уборка мусора в заповеднике Керженский, Нижегородская область

Who is suitable

Job. So what do the volunteers, who decided to devote a week, two (or more) to care about the environment? The most common responsibilities are:

- Cleaning the area from garbage

- Repairing buildings

- Organizing ecological trails for tourists

- Organizing excursions (basic knowledge in botany, ornithology and zoology are usually required)

- Inspecting the animals focus groups

- Recalculating birds

- Photo shooting

- Landscaping.

It is also possible that you have to mow the grass, cook lunch for all the volunteers in the group or organize activities. First of all, we must soberly assess our abilities to physical work and endurance. The requirements for candidates are usually listed in the ads on the volunteers search, sometimes candidates are even asked to provide proof of condition. It is easier for photographers and designers, but they are rarely needed.

Волонтер должен быть готов к бытовым трудностям

Accommodation. Of course, volunteers do not expect accommodation in five-star hotels and all inclusive meals. But sometimes the reality turns out to be more severe than expected. So it is better to be mentally prepared to live in houses without conveniences, Internet absence and bath three times a week. The closest shops and pharmacies can be miles away from the reserve, so everything needed should be taken, including medications, insect repellents, work clothing and a sleeping bag. And sometimes the food supply – but, as a rule, volunteers are fed at least twice a day. And yet, the volunteer work involves communication and openness, because you have to be constantly in the company of unfamiliar and different temperament of people who, at best, will become your friends.

Looking for places

In Russia. In most cases, nature reserves invite volunteers in spring, summer and autumn. It is better to start viewing sites early, to apply the first, then the chances to get into the number of participants are much higher. The online Green Board will help not to miss the offer.

It is worth noting that the road to the place of work, whether the far East or Pskov, is usually paid by the volunteer. Regularly volunteer assistance is required to the Kronotsky nature reserve in Kamchatka, where the famous Valley of Geysers is situated.

Обычно для кольцевания птиц приглашают студентов-биологов, но бывают и исключения

Ladoga Ornithological Station of St. Petersburg state University annually invites volunteers to participate in bird ringing during the field season from April to November.

The Polistovsky reserve, Pskov region is swamp system, which is Europe's largest natural filter of fresh water. In summer they will be glad to all who is ready to assist in the conduct of geobotanical descriptions, excursions for tourists, repair eco-trails and garbage collection.

Прежде чем увидеть лотосы, придется потрудиться на благо заповедника

Volunteering in the Astrakhan biosphere reserve is a unique opportunity to see the blossoming lotuses (!) in the Volga delta and to get acquainted with eagles, herons, scarlet ibis, glossy ibis and other wonderful birds.

Around the world. In Switzerland in the framework of the Bergwaldproject all year working volunteers pick up trash left by tourists in the mountain forests. Mandatory requirement is knowledge of French or German language.

Большой лес начинается с одного посаженного деревца

Forests saving can be enjoyed in Scotland, enrolling in the charity Trees for life.

Agency for the environment of Iceland attracts volunteers from around the world for garbage collection in national parks, construction of roads and tree care.

Thailand, the Seychelles, and the United States demand for volunteers to monitor the turtles. More information about the projects related to animals are here.

Поучаствовать в сохранении популяции черепах - важная миссия!

Trust but check

Tuned to consider turtles and ring birds or to save the mangrove forests - in short, to do good - do not lose elementary vigilance. Be careful with firms-intermediaries, requiring to transfer certain amount to get the database access of available options – the risk of running into scams is great. If you are going to volunteer in another country, you can use the services of the sites "TRAVELER" or World4u – they do cooperate with foreign organizations such as the European voluntary service (EVS). However, you cannot do without the entry fee.

Будьте готовы остаться один на один с проблемами

In any case, before you buy tickets, be sure to find out all the details: what will the job be, how long to stay, and so on. It is advisable to communicate with the host personally via Skype or phone. Check whether the organization has a website and if it is credible. In case, if the working conditions do not correspond the declared ones, it is necessary to have a thoughtful plan of retreat, so you can leave the project at any time. To do this make inquires about accessibility of the place where you are going in advance, and take the reserve money. Even if you have found a «free dream job» via a specialized search engine you will have to solve all possible conflicts personally.

What if...

Perhaps after reading all this, you realize that volunteering is not for you. Or that you are not yet ready to exchange the usual vacation full of surprises to the journey, which main goal is selfless work for the good of the Earth. But if the desire to somehow help nature still remains, your option is charity. There are many well-known non-profit foundations, which are funded by voluntary donations, and are working to save forests and rare species of animals.

Чтобы помочь этим прекрасным животным, не нужно никуда ехать

For example, the Foundation of the Baltic ringed seals friends, about which we have repeatedly written in our publications. Its founders devote themselves not only to the rehabilitation of young pinnipeds and their return to natural environment, but to the scientific work including field investigations. A particularly important task is to get as much data on the population of the Baltic ringed seal as possible. There are not more than 200 of these animals left in the Gulf of Finland. Everyone can support the Fund's work, both individuals and companies. For more information about how to do this, visit:

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