Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

Lifestyle

Growing interest in volunteering in Iceland

  • Building paths and crossing bridges 1,200-1,400 volunteers from the organization Seeds have worked on over 140 different projects this year, including forestry, building paths and cleaning shores. Photo from the webpage of Seeds Iceland.

Volunteer organizations are forced to turn down hundreds of applications as interest in volunteering in Iceland has grown in the past years. The largest volunteer organization in Iceland, Seeds Iceland, was forced to turn down 400 applications last year.

Hundreds of applicants have been turned down
Oscar Uscategui, manager of Seeds Iceland, told the local news site visir.is that the organization receives between 1,200 and 1,400 volunteers each year. The organization works closely with local authorities and other non-profits to develop projects which strengthen local communities and helps protect and preserve nature. 

The volunteers come from 60 different countries, most from Europe, but there are also large groups from the US, Canada and East Asia. Some 140 different groups have been working across Iceland on a variety of projects, including reforestation, clean-up of beaches, constructing paths and working on a variety of other projects which benefit local communities or protect nature. Every group is accompanied by a group leader provided from Seeds.

Lack of projects is the biggest bottleneck
According to Oscar the main problem faced by the organization is lack of projects. “Iceland is a small country, and unfortunately we have been unable to find work for everyone who wants to come”, he tells visir.is. This year they have been forced to reject 400 applications from people who wanted to volunteer in Iceland. Every volunteer who is accepted pays a participation-fee, which starts at 80 euros.

Oscar explains the increasing interest in volunteering in Iceland by increasing tourism. The collapse of the financial system in 2008 and the volcanic eruption in Eyjafjallajökull brought Iceland into the international limelight. Then, as more low-budget airlines add Iceland as a destination it becomes easier for young people to travel to Iceland.

You too can participate!
Most of the volunteers are college and university students in their 20s, who come to Iceland to spend the summer. Many volunteer for two weeks before embarking on travels around the country, while some stay for as long as 4-12 months.

Volunteering is a great way to see the world while making a valuable contribution. In addition to Seeds Iceland you can volunteer in Iceland by joining Iceland Conservation Volunteers, or the Þórsmörk Trail Volunteers, run by the Forestry Service. Another option is Worldwide Friends Iceland.

We at Iceland Magazine salute all these selfless young people and hope that many more will follow in their footsteps! But, we would also like to emphasize that EVERYONE who travels in Iceland can contribute by not leaving trash, by picking up trash others have left behind, and ensuring that we leave nature as we found it. 

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