If the only planting you like to do is your butt on the couch for an afternoon, then volunteering abroad in tree planting may not be for you. But for those who pride their green thumbs, can spend hours hunched over dirt without blinking an eye, or welcome the company of earthworms, then we’d like to plant an idea in your head: why not take your skills and interests abroad? Just think! You can expand your knowledge and passion for farming and gardening, all while exploring exotic parts of the world and contributing to the environment.
Why Volunteer Abroad in Tree Planting
Tree planting is a long lost tradition that used to be implemented by everyone in society. By better informing yourself on the practice you can restore this tradition, and learn to become more self sufficient. Today’s eating habits and food production processes have left a large population of the world sick and unhealthy. By traveling abroad to learn various gardening tactics, you will be opened up to a whole new culture of food production and consumption. This valuable knowledge you acquire while abroad can then be applied to your own community to help instill better eating habits in your hometown.
Volunteering abroad in tree planting can be both affordable and fulfilling. Many tree planting volunteer programs cost close to nothing and may offer a place to stay and free meals in exchange for your volunteer work. Managing a farm, greenhouse, or large garden takes a lot of work, so farmers are often very appreciative of any help they can receive. By volunteering your time to help the maintenance of a farm or garden, you are sure to be paid back, if not in food and a place to sleep, then through an enriching experience and the satisfaction of having helped hard working people in need.
Lucky for you, no matter what region of the world draws your interest, there are probably trees; by extension, there’s likely a volunteer project waiting for you to help plant more of them. Here are some hot spots for tree planters abroad:
Ecuador is an excellent location to volunteer in tree planting because of its vast biodiversity. As a result of its very fertile land, many species of plants and animals thrive in Ecuador, making gardening and farming very feasible. A very popular location to volunteer in tree planting and environmental conservation is the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos are world renowned for their biodiversity, but through the commercialization of tourism, many non-indigenous plants and animals have been introduced to this area. Much of the focus of volunteer programs in Ecuador is to restore the natural cycle of native habitats.
South Africa is a quickly growing nation, currently experiencing a rise in industrialization. With this growth in population and commerce, it’s becoming more important to preserve natural habitats and prevent deforestation. This movement starts with environmental awareness and eco-education. By volunteering to plant trees in South Africa, you will help spread this message of green living to the nation through helping to maintain community gardens. Through your actions of encouraging South Africa to be more environmentally friendly, you will instill ideals that will stick around long after your leave to ultimately make the planet a healthier place.
Costa Rica is a country that is rich in biodiversity and makes for a great location to volunteer in tree planting. The country’s vast rural rainforests make for very successful gardening and farming. Next to tourism, Costa Rica’s largest industry is produce production. Some of the world’s tastiest fruits and vegetables are grown in Costa Rica and shipped all over the world because of their high quality. The amount of rain Costa Rica experiences, in addition to the intense sunlight and tropical, humid weather all contribute to the success of crops.
Tree Planting Volunteer Projects
The most popular tree planting volunteer projects abroad involve horticulture, permaculture, and other environmental conservation projects. The emphasis of most tree planting volunteer programs is to restore the balance and relationship between natural habitats and the community of people. You may have the opportunity to hone in on the preservation of one particular plant or animal species, or you may choose a program with a broader objective, focusing on general education on sustainability.
The average length of tree planting volunteer programs is between two and five weeks, but volunteers will likely have the opportunity to stay for up to 12 weeks. The best time to volunteer in tree planting varies by region and program type. For example, if you are volunteering to plant trees during a country’s wet season, you may face challenging weather conditions, so steer clear of the winter months for most countries in the northern hemisphere.
Most tree planting volunteer opportunities are accepting of all volunteers, regardless of experience within the field or level of education, as organizations will take all of the help they can get because of the hard work involved. Therefore, most organizations will provide training on site.
Benefits & Challenges
Experience an exotic, foreign location. By working directly with the natural environment of a different country, you will gain a deep connection with the land that will give you an unmatched appreciation for the country. Having put your hard work into the land, you will begin to see a whole new beauty to the country that will stick with you for the rest of your life.
Master tree planting practices that you can take home with you. By learning various gardening methods and techniques you will also learn to become more self sufficient. This is a useful practice that you can take home with you that is not only healthy, but cost effective.
Never truly see the fruits of your labor. Unless you’re planning on making a return trip in the coming five, 10, or 15 years (if so, good on you!), then your little seedlings won’t look like much when you leave. This can be frustrating for volunteers at times, especially considering an innate desire to understand the impact your work has on the community. Just trust that those little babies will grow and provide shade or shelter to future children someday.
Gain the satisfaction of knowing you’re making an impact on the planet as a whole by contributing to a more balanced world, allowing humanity to live in harmony with the planet.