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 the 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. 

Two weeks in the southwest
„In early summer 2015 we spent two weeks in a small town to create a new path. We were hosted in a school, everybody sleeping in a teaching classroom. There was a toilet but we had to shower at the swimming-pool. The cooking and eating facilities were 50 meters away from our sleeping room. It was our first big project. The weather in the first week was terrible, rain and crazy wind were really hard on us. The work to carry was pretty tough as well, digging a new path in a steep slope. The locals were nice but the communication was difficult and it created misunderstandings about what tasks to conduct and how. So we could say it was a tough project, but we still had good times, like when we had dinner with the locals or when we could go to the Blue Lagoon for free!”

Global context of the 2018 project:
The IFA will host 5 EVS volunteers during 5 months, from May until September. The EVS volunteers will be involved in all sort of projects with different partners. However, the type of partnership that will be most common is partnership 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 often very busy in their professional life or are retired and thus have limited time or physical abilities to conduct physical forestry works. 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 the volunteers and the locals.

Participant profile:
Participants should first of all be interested in nature and physical outdoor work. Education on environmental matters would be a positive thing, knowledge and experience in forestry will be appreciated. Participants with a forestry related professional project are especially welcome. 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 and their physical ability to carry out demanding tasks outdoor. Participants need to be fluent in English.

Gender balance is important for a good group dynamic, the number of participants for this project is 5, and there should be 2 or 3 participants of each gender.

Because of the European Calendar the IFA has already made agreements with sending organizations in 4 countries: Spain, Czech Republic, Italy and Poland. Sadly applicants from other countries cannot apply for this project for 2018.

Our lovely time in the Westfjords
„In July we spent several weeks in the North West of Iceland. The weather was so good that we could once or twice sunbath in the grass or on the beach. We had different types of accommodation, sometimes two persons bedroom, sometimes everybody sleeping and living in the same big room. The locals were very friendly and willing to supply all our needs. We were invited to the restaurant many times. Our work was to cut trees and branches broken by the snow. Accessing and cutting such broken trees is difficult. But we had no time or goal pressure so we could take the time we needed to carry this work. Then we had to remove all the branches and drive them out of the forest with a pick up car. We had a lot of fun, at work, travelling to all the beautiful places, meeting other people and volunteers. This was maybe our favorite time in Iceland“.

Practical information:
The IFA is based in Reykjavik. The projects of the IFA are spread all around Iceland. 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 projects the EVS volunteers will be working on will take place all around the country. 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 will have the opportunity to use the car for their own needs (leisure, shopping...) 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.

The EVS volunteers will often be on working trips for one week or more. In this case they will have access to accommodation, services and leisure at the place they are staying at. Applicants should be aware that a succession of long periods of mobility can be challenging. Occasionally camping will be a possibility, and that is generally a positive experience for the volunteers.
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. So 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 many swimming pools accessible within a 30 minute drive.

If you have an interest in our EVS hosting project and you want to apply, please contact the sending organization based in your country. Below are the links:

Spain - Ecoperia
Italy – You Net
Poland – Semper Avanti
Czech Republic - INEX 

You can follow us on Facebook or e-mail us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it