If you are looking for an environmental volunteer program in Latin America, Costa Rica should be on the top of your list. Conservation has a long history in Costa Rica and with a very heavy focus on environmental issues and the preservation of the environment, this country attracts thousands of volunteers every year to work in the many ecosystems there. Volunteers can work on reforestation projects in the cloud forest or help clean up beaches in the tropical Pacific coast. The array of programs and projects varies widely and any mayor or area of interest can be easily accommodated.
Things to know:
- This small country is the where the concept of eco-tourism originated. Ideally, this is a form of sustainable tourism in which visitors explicitly travel to the country to experience the wonders of nature and be close to the fauna and flora there without harming the environments they see.
- Close to 25% of the land area in Costa Rica is set aside for conservation and as natural parks or preserves. The country has an ever growing focus on this type of conservation and every year sets more land aside or provides farmers with incentives to protect the land already in use.
- Costa Rica makes up only .03% of the planet’s landmass, but has 5% of all the biodiversity of the planet. This combined with the many micro climates that are found in the country, makes it a hotspot of biodiversity that attracts nature lovers from all over the world.
- With over 800 species of birds and hundreds of migratory ones that come to the country seasonably, Costa Rica is a bird-watcher’s paradise.
- Costa Rica is one of the top producers and exporters of bananas, coffee, and ornamental plants to the U.S. and other countries.
For nature lovers and conservation minded students, there is no better place to volunteer than Costa Rica in Central America. Working in a place where conservation is so important and where the effects of globalization and contamination can be seen gives students and tourists a more tangible idea of the effects that humans have on this planet. It is truly a life-changing experience that can teach students a lot about their own life-style and give them tools and sustainable practices that they can take home and implement.
Examples of non-profit conservation organizations:
ASVO (Asociación de Voluntarios para el Servicio en Áreas Protegidas de Costa Rica) has been active in Conservation in national Parks, beaches and communities of Costa Rica for over 25 years. It is a non-governmental organization (NGO) self-managed and nonprofit that acts as a bridge between civil society and Costa Ricas natural areas , allowing more and more people to get involved responsibly in the conservation of our national patrimony, – natural and cultural.
- Osa Conservation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the globally significant biodiversity of the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.
- GVI– Wildlife Expedition in Costa Rica On Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast you will join a team of international volunteers as an expedition member. Our expedition base camp is located in the Tortuguero National park of Costa Rica. Your hands on work will contribute to the long-term management and conservation of this stunning rainforest.