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Volunteer work – European Voluntary Service

Spending your European Voluntary Service at the Icelandic Forestry Association

The Icelandic Forestry Association (IFA) runs a great number of different projects in the field of afforestation and environmental improvements. Many of these projects require outdoor work during summer, such as planting, trail maintenance or wood construction.

Since its creation in 1930 the IFA has had different types of partners. Among those, local volunteers and schools take a great part in the work of the association. Therefore, IFA has a long experience in working with people seeking self-accomplishment and gaining experience and knowledge.

In the summer of 2011, aware of the interest of people in IFA activities, the association started a youth volunteer hosting project for foreigners. The main goal of this project was to provide an opportunity for people from all over the world to come and support the IFA in Iceland. In this project the association would host volunteers for two weeks. There were usually 5 to 8 volunteers per camp. The success of this project led the IFA to start a new type of volunteer hosting. In 2015, the IFA was accredited by the National Agency Evrópa Unga Fólksins for European Voluntary Service (EVS) hosting and has been hosting since.

Global context of the 2019 project:

IFA will host 5 EVS volunteers for 5 months, from May until September. IFA owns the farm and surrounding land around the HQ in Úlfljótsvatn along with the Icelandic scouting organisation. There IFA has, with the great work of our volunteers, been reforesting a badly eroded area of 185 ha. This particular area is well on its way to being fully planted and hopefully in 2019 we can finish it.

The EVS volunteers will also be involved in all sort of projects with different partners. The type of partnership that will be most common is work with a local forestry association. These local forestry associations are based in most of the little towns of Iceland. They are run by local volunteers who are very varied in their ability to improve their forests or create new ones, there we come in as a helping hand. The local associations have small or medium afforestation projects that mostly aim at providing recreational areas for local inhabitants and enriching biodiversity. The EVS volunteers will help such local association to conduct small projects including path making, planting and branch picking. Applicants should consider that the tasks will be physically demanding and the weather conditions challenging. By spending one or two weeks in such small communities the EVS team will bring a great deal of energy to the people and that is always appreciated by the locals. Past and current camps under such partnerships have always had very positive feedback from all sides.

Participant profile:

Participants should first of all be interested in nature and physical outdoor work. Education on environmental matters can be a positive thing, but not necessary. This project can include young people with fewer opportunities, however there is no adapted frame for physically and mentally disabled people. Once training completes participants need to be able to work and live on their own responsibility. EVS participants’ age limit is from 18 to 30 years old. The main point is the maturity of the participants (not age) and their physical ability to carry out demanding tasks outdoor. Participants need to be able to communicate well in English since it is the work language.

We aim for a gender balance for our groups. The number of participants for this project is 5, and there should be 2 or 3 participants of each gender.

IFA has already made agreements with sending organizations in 5 countries: Austria, Spain, Czech Republic, Italy and Poland. Unfortunately, applicants from other countries cannot apply.

Practical information:

IFA is based in Reykjavik. The projects of the IFA are spread all around Iceland, with a special focus around Úlfljótsvatn. Afforestation and forest management are often run in cooperation with the local forestry associations that are based in most of the small towns of Iceland. This means that the EVS volunteers will be working in and around Úlfljótsvatn but also in several other locations around the country.

These duration of these trips from the HQ into a new location is often one or two weeks. In the new location the volunteers will have access to accommodation and services at the place they are staying at. Occasionally camping will remain an option if needed, though we always try and find some other accommodation in the area of work.

Mobility of the work is a key element of this EVS hosting and stands as a strong attraction for the EVS applicants because they will have the opportunity to work and travel during their stay. Because of that mobility, and also for practical and comfort reasons, the EVS team will have a car devoted to them. Volunteers will have to drive for work purposes and acquire needed shopping/service during non-working time.

The EVS volunteers´ base camp will be situated in Úlfljótsvatn. PARTICIPANTS SHOULD BE AWARE THAT THE BASE 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 numerous buildings used for work and housing. The EVS volunteers will have a fully equipped house with single or group sleeping rooms. The house has all the comforts of a modern house and is located in a very beautiful countryside area. Internet connection will be provided.

Very close to the house is located a scout camp area and camping area. In this area there is always a lot of activities and people, so despite the relative isolation of the house, there is in fact always a lot happening in the area. The IFA and the neighbor camp managers work in cooperation, therefore the EVS 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 base camp periods volunteers will drive there to buy food and more. Volunteers will most often buy the food they need and cook for themselves. There are swimming pools accessible within a 30-minute drive.

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. You will also learn how to work with numerous different hand tools (even chainsaws if you’re interested), get to know your other group mates like a family and acquire or increase various mental skills like: Groupwork, dedication, adaptability and creative thinking.
On top of all that, you will have the chance to see a great deal of the island, both on our work trips and hopefully in your leisure time.

If you have an interest in our EVS hosting project and you want to apply, please contact the sending organization based in your country. If there are any questions regarding the project, feel free to send us them at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Below are links to the sending organisations:

CUBIC - Cultur & Bildung im Context (Austria) - https://europa.eu/youth/volunteering/organisation/939496411_en

ASOCIACION ECOPERIA (Spain) –
https://europa.eu/youth/volunteering/organisation/948775528_en

YOUNET (Italy) -
https://europa.eu/youth/volunteering/organisation/949011238_en

SEMPER AVANTI STOWARZYSZENIE (Poland) -
https://europa.eu/youth/volunteering/organisation/947330616_en

INEX - SDRUZENI DOBROVOLNYCH AKTIVIT, Z.S. (Czech Republic) -
https://europa.eu/youth/volunteering/organisation/947951707_en