Volunteering in Environment Conservation in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is thought to be the most biodiverse country in the world; despite its tiny size, Costa Rica is home to five per cent of the Earth’s biodiversity. As an environmental conservation volunteer, you will help conserve and protect precious wildlife and ecosystems at a nature reserve in San Ramon. Formerly a forested area, the reserve’s trees were cut down for cattle grazing. As part of a reforestation project, the reserve is being repopulated with trees, providing natural habitats for the area’s biodiversity and conserving local groundwater.

Program Video

The reserve is home to a vast array of animals, insects and plant life, and is also vital for the conservation of water levels in San Ramon and neighboring Palmares. Volunteers tend the reserve, greenhouse and butterfly garden, lead visitor tours and increase awareness of environmental conservation and the importance of the reserve to the local area. Find out more about environmental conservation volunteering in Costa Rica by downloading the uVolunteer program brochure

Quick facts

  • Program: Volunteer Costa Rica
  • Location: San Ramon
  • Minimum Duration: 2 weeks
  • Language Requirement: Basic Spanish
  • Airport Pick-up: Yes, for $75
  • Travel Insurance Not included
  • Suitable for Groups: Yes
  • Region: Alajuela
  • Project Site: Nature Reserve
  • Minimum Age: 18
  • Accommodation: Dorm Home
  • Meals: 2 Meals Daily
  • Start Dates: Every Other Friday
  • Suitable for Families: Yes

Your role as a volunteer

Your role as a volunteer is to work on assignments that foster continual development of the reforestation reserve. As a volunteer you will work in the recovery of the butterfly farm, help with maintenance and reforestation (plant trees, work at the greenhouse, among others duties. The reserve staff is not always there because in these days they are trying to get donations for the foundation but will assist you at the beginning of your program, but once you are fully trained you will be working on your own or with other volunteers.

Tasks may include:

  • Clearing land for reforestation
  • Working in the butterfly garden
  • Categorizing pants and animal s observed
  • Working on land stewardship projects

Work schedule

Conservation volunteers work four days per week, from Monday to Thursday. Working hours usually work from 8 am until 2 pm, although this is subject to change – especially during the rainy season.

Journey to work

The environment conservation project is located in the town of San Ramon. You will have to take a short bus ride no longer than 30 minutes to the project site.

Closed dates

This project is closed during the fourth week of December and the first week of January, as well as for a week preceding Easter Sunday.

Project Photos

Project Location

Project Reviews & Testimonials

I thought it would be difficult waking up so early and adapting to farm life, but it took only a few days.

There were quite a few volunteers from other organizations at the farm during my stay. I met people from England, Canada and the US and made some great friends.The work was difficult at times, but always rewarding. I did tasks such as planting trees and grass, soil conservation, weeding, feeding the animals, and raking the terraces.

One day we drove about ten minutes up the road to a forty-foot bridge and jumped off of it with Terry.

It was hard work, but it was honest work, which left me feeling healthy and mentally enlightened by the end of my three-week stay. Everything from planting trees to building terraces to milking cows was so new and exciting that (even though we had to wake up at 6 A.M) I looked forward to work everyday.

We started the morning by salvaging wood from a rundown barn near the chicken coop.

We got the pieces we needed and trekked off into the forest. Once we had built a couple of the benches we began to go around and test them out. We sat on top of our work with pride listening to the sounds of the forest and watching to see if we could make out who was making the noise.

Our walk began in the pitch black and as I followed Omar I was still struggling to fully wake up and grasp what was going on.

However, after 10 minutes of walking I was awestruck by the beauty that was before me; the sun rising over the mountains, volcanoes and Lake Arenal. It was at that very moment that I knew I would love it here!

I loved my stay at Marino Ballena, beautiful beaches, warm climate, and wonderful people made the 2 weeks so very memorable! As I was the only English speaking volunteer, my Spanish improved markedly!.

Marino Ballena is quiet in November as this is not yet the tourist season. Our work involved walking pristine, isolated beaches picking up micro-trash, and tossing palm fronds and coconuts out of the camping area into a perimeter pile. The work was not strenuous....in fact, I wish there was more work that I could have done.

You will also be asked to participate to the conservation of a butterfly garden which allows you to discover the amazing story of butterflies' lives.

Working days are less and intense but at the end of the day you know you have been helpful as the reserve is held only by volunteers. At weekends I enjoyed the amazing Costa Rican beaches with others volunteers from the dorm

My experience through uVolunteer was better than I could have ever hoped for.

Flying into Costa Rica, barley knowing Spanish, away from everything I knew was a little nerve racking, but I was instantly at ease when I was greeted right out front of the airport by a couple of uVolunteer staff, ready to take me to the dorms in San Ramon.

I did not know exactly what to expect before I arrived in Tortuguero but Ligia was very helpful with her correspondence.

She answered all of my questions I emailed to her and she gave me a great orientation with a clear transportation schedule. There was constant availability for phone communication if I had a problem during my stay and Ligia was always very friendly.

My name is Adrienne, I am a Canadian university student who has spent the past four months living and volunteering in Costa Rica as part of my undergraduate degree.

My first two months in Costa Rica I volunteered at the Cloud Forest school in Monte Verde. The School's curriculum is centered around environmental sustainability, and while there, I worked on a number of sustainability based projects, from maintaining the school's organic vegetable garden, to working in the tree nursery, to helping build a wind turbine for electricity generation for the school.

At the Environmental Conservation Project, I have been working on this nature reserve helping further the goal of environmental conservation.

For my two weeks, that has meant mostly working in the resident butterfly garden tending to the needs of Blue Morphos and Caligos. It has also allowed me to do a little bit of planting and general park maintenance. The experience has been educational and the best part has really been getting to meet and befriend many new people from different walks of life.

Costa Rica Information Brochure

If you are interested in joining the program in Costa Rica, you should download and read our destination guide.

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