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Long-term volunteers

Our long-term volunteers work with our teams in Thórsmörk and Goðaland and are also involved in trail maintenance and tree-planting tasks at our Forestry Stations in South Iceland.

We are looking for participants who have experience of working with teams, enjoy camping and spending time hiking in wild and remote areas. These placements are especially well suited to applicants who wish to gain experience of practical conservation work, trail maintenance and team leadership. Placements begin with a training week and our long-term volunteers are guided and supported by Forestry Service staff throughout their placements.

Placement dates
8-12 week placements are available. Placements start in May, June and July.
(Please note that due to seasonal conditions, we are not able to offer long-term placements at other times)

The role of long-term volunteers
Our long-term volunteers are involved in all aspects of the Trailteam.is programme. This includes both working on practical tasks in small teams as well as opportunities to take on leadership responsibilities and help to support and guide our volunteer projects. In addition to working with our Thórsmörk and Goðaland Trailteams, our Long-term volunteers also work alongside staff at our Forestry Stations. All placements include team leadership and practical skills training.

Leadership responsibilities
Volunteer leaders are responsible for the day-to-day management of the projects;

  • Coordinating the domestic tasks at the volunteer camps.
  • Managing supplies and overseeing meal preparation.
  • On the work sites, they take responsibility for managing the practical activities which includes organising the equipment, explaining the work and safety planning.

Practical work
Our work will cover three main areas; trail maintenance, landscape restoration (erosion control), and tree planting. Although work is focused on Thórsmörk and Goðaland, our long-term volunteers work on

  1. Trail maintenance is our main activity and involves a huge variety of practical tasks including improving drainage, building steps with timber or stone, resurfacing trails with gravel and installing signs. Hand tools including rock bars and stone carriers are used for much of the work but machinery is brought in to support the teams where access allows. Timber from local forests is used in the construction of steps and drains along the trails. Trail marking is another important part of our work as it helps to prevent damage to fragile areas and improve safety for visitors. Way-markers for the trails are made on site by our volunteers.
  2. Landscape restoration and erosion control work in Thórsmörk and Goðaland includes the planting of native willow, constructing shelter fences and the use of fertilizer. The aim of this work is to help the establishment and development of native vegetation.
  3. Although our main focus remains the management of hiking trails, since 2019 our volunteers have been involved in tree planting projects to help with carbon offsetting for the international flights associated with the programme. This work is organised with our colleagues at the forestry stations in south Iceland.

Work times
Our volunteers do practical work from Monday to Friday and the working day normally runs from 09.00 to 18.00, however this schedule can vary due to the nature of some of the projects. Activities may involve organisational tasks on weekends in which case additional free time will be included on weekdays. Participants must be prepared for some flexibility in these working hours due to Iceland’s changeable weather. Worksite are generally 30-60 minutes walk from the camps. The programme includes 2 days off during each working week as well as a number of additional days off, depending on the placement length.

Holiday / hiking week
We have included a holiday/hiking week for our long-term volunteers to allow time to explore the area or travel further afield. We invite our volunteers to join us and take part in the famous 4-day hike (The Laugavegur hiking trail) hiking from Thórsmörk to LandmannalaugarLightweight food is provided for the teams and Transport is organised for the return journey to Thórsmörk. The hike is optional and participants who do not wish to take part may make alternative arrangements during this time. A final decision about joining the hike can be made in the week before, when the team meets to discuss plans for the trip.

It is important that anyone wishing to complete the hike makes sure that they bring all the necessary personal equipment with them, as it will not be possible to obtain additional equipment in Thórsmörk. It is also important to note that the weather in Iceland’s mountains is very changeable and poor conditions may result in the hike being delayed or cancelled.

Our volunteer camps and accommodation
Volunteers bring their own tents and stay at our established volunteer camps at Langidalur (Thórsmörk) and Básar (Goðaland). Facilities are basic and these including toilets, showers, cooking facilities, and group tents for eating in. During the projects at our Forestry Stations, our volunteers stay at staff accommodation.

Map of the Thórsmörk area showing the volunteer camps.

Placement costs
There is no participation fee. Our volunteers pay their own travel costs to Iceland and to the meeting point in Thórsmörk. Throughout the placement, food, transport and campsites are provided. Please note that participants cover their own costs if they leave the project area during their free time.

Equipment
Gloves and waterproofs for work are provided as well as any additional safety equipment that is required during the work tasks. Participants need to bring their own personal equipment and it is very important that our volunteers are well prepared. Essentials include waterproofs and warm clothes, hiking boots and a sturdy tent that you are able to carry when hiking. Further details can be found on our Equipment list for volunteers.

Food
Food is provided throughout the placement (including weekends and holidays). It is important that participants inform us about special dietary requirements before of their placement, as food is organised ahead of the projects. Volunteers take part in food preparation and all other domestic tasks at the camps and at our staff accommodation.

Travel
Our volunteers organise their own travel to the meeting point in Thórsmörk (See Getting to Thórsmörk).

Travel insurance
Participants organising their own travel insurance for the duration of the placement.

Application
If you would like to join us, please complete the application form.
Volunteers who have joined our programme before do not need to complete the form and can simply apply by email.

Further information can be found in our Volunteer Guide.
If you have any questions, please contact us by email: Thorsmork@trailteam.is.

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