Environmental Volunteer Program

Be part of an exciting tree planting, eco-education, and environmental management program

Join an exciting academic environmental volunteer program in South Africa this summer! You’ll have the opportunity to be part of an effort to regenerate an area that was devastated by wild fires recently, and learn about environmental management at the same time. As part of the program, you’ll help plant thousands of trees, build using eco-methods, and help with landscape restoration activities. Apart from the opportunity to make a hands-on impact in the area, you’ll also be able to expand your knowledge on issues around sustainable development, permaculture, environmental management, disaster management, and bee conservation during talks and workshops by local experts. This program is a great short volunteer program, or an add-on to an internship or academic summer course.


  • Be part of an exciting environmental program in South Africa’s famous Garden Route area
  • Help restore a natural area after a devastating wildfire
  • Get your hands dirty by planting indigenous trees, assist with eco-building projects, and contributing to landscape restoration
  • Gain valuable knowledge on a range of environmental issues through workshops and talks
  • Enjoy some of the many travel highlights the area has to offer

Environmental Volunteer Program_eden  Environmental Volunteer Program_alien clearing

Quick Facts

  • Destination Knysna, Garden Route, South Africa
  • Date 7-14 July 2019
  • Focus Sustainable development, permaculture, eco-building, landscape restoration
  • Suitable for Anyone with an environmental interest
  • Price USD 506
  • Accommodation Shared tent

Greenpop is a Cape Town based environmental NGO that runs urban greening, reforestation, and eco-education projects in Africa. And they do it with a difference; they make it fun, accessible, and valuable for everyone involved. While planting trees is an important and very beneficial activity, Greenpop believes that unless communities are actively involved in and incentivised by the process, no lasting environmental change is possible. Greenpop was founded in 2010 and has since planted over 100,000 trees at schools and other urban sites as well as forests and farms across South Africa, Zambia, and Tanzania.

In June 2017, devastating fires wreaked havoc on large areas of the Eden District along South Africa’s beautiful Garden Route, particularly near Knysna. The extremity of the fires was exacerbated by the uncontrolled spread of alien plant species in the area. “Some of the biggest culprits for the intensity of the fire were invasive plant material,” said Knysna Mayor Bouw-Spies. The impact of these fires has been immense on a social and environmental level. General consensus is that alongside immediate rebuilding efforts, long-term efforts need to be focussed on regeneration through planting of indigenous trees, introducing ecosystem services, removing alien vegetation and catchment management.

Greenpop is bringing its work to the Eden District as a way to launch our ongoing environmental work in the area. There are many local environmental and social initiatives to protect against another disaster and Greenpop aims to contribute and be part of the solution, while also teaching skills and lessons that are relevant to everyone across the globe – sharing and learning in a place that highlights some of the challenges that our planet faces on a whole.

Environmental Volunteer Program_group

You’ll get involved in the following activities:

  • Reforestation – Get your hands dirty planting trees, turning soil, and digging
  • Eco-Education – At local schools, we plant indigenous and fruit trees, teach young students about the value of caring for our beautiful planet and do big school clean up
  • Eco Enterprise – Engage in ideas around environmentally appropriate enterprise opportunities and ideas that have a positive impact for people, profit and the planet
  • Natural Building – Get practical skills on building using natural and up-cycled materials. Learn the basic principles for building with low environmental footprints
  • Permaculture – Engage with ideas around the world-renowned approach to ecological food system design that works with, rather than against, natural systems
  • Alien clearing and landscape restoration
  • Bee Conservation activities
  • Talks and workshops by local experts and academics

Check out the video of the 2018 edition of this volunteer program!

What a typical day looks like?

06:45   Wake-up and breakfast
07:45   All meet ready for the day
08:00  Activities in groups. For example: reforestation mass planting, mural painting or urban planting at local school or NGO
13:00   Lunch at camp or in the field
14:00   Free time (read, chill, walk around, etc.)
15:30   Optional activities: Sustainability workshops, crafting, etc.
17:00   Optional: Forest Yoga or Sunset Nature Walk
19:30   Delicious dinner
20:30   Evening activities: outdoor film screening, quiz night, campfire music, speaker evening, etc.

You’ll be staying just outside of Knysna, on the famous and stunning Garden Route.

The Greenpop Village will be set up at a lodge just outside Knysna, one of the Eden District’s beautiful towns that was affected by the fires of 2017. There you will be sleeping in a beautiful tented camp area, with two people per tent and have access to our dining area, ablution blocks, and other lodge amenities. You need to bring a pillow, a good sleeping bag and warm blankets (the nights will get cold!). It’s rustic but really comfortable and a lot more homely than what you would expect from a campsite – we pride ourselves on creating beautiful spaces. We will also have the option to upgrade to a room.

We strive to live as sustainably as possible by buying from local farmers, eating seasonal food, and using alternative cooking methods like wonderbags and solar cookers. Because the meat industry has a devastating effect on the environment, we believe in reducing meat consumption. We serve three well-balanced vegetarian meals per day with snacks in between, so you’ll get all the vitamins and protein you need!

Living sustainable also means recycling, making our own compost and beautifying our village with upcycled art. Any waste we have, we take to local entrepreneurs: for example plastic turns into eco-bricks and tetra pak into wallets. Just being in the Greenpop Village is a valuable learning experience. Everybody works as a team to maintain and keep it looking awesome.

Exploring the Garden Route during time off:
The Garden Route in the Eden District has lots of natural beauty, fun and adventure to offer! In your time off, you can explore the area and do some of the fun activities on offer, such as Bungee Jumping at the Bloukrans bridge, doing a Bridge Walk across the Bloukrans Bridge, doing Knysna lagoon cruises, and shopping at local farmers’ markets Bicycle tour of Knysna.

 Environmental Volunteer Program_camp


  • This program is open to anyone, but particularly those with an interest in the following areas: Environmental management, Natural Sciences, Geography, Urban Planning, Entomology, Dendrology, Disaster Management, Botany, Sustainable Development, and Biomimicry.
  • Minimum age: 18 years old (NB. If you are younger and keen to join, please contact us for more information on Youth Weeks from 22-29 June and 29 June-7 July 2019)

How to Apply:
If you are interested in joining, send an email to info[at]rootsinterns.com with your contact details and let us know what motivates you to join this programme, and what you are hoping to get out of it.

Environmental Volunteer Program_upcycling  Environmental Volunteer Program_reforestation 2

Dates and fee

The programme is from Sunday 7 July until Sunday 14 July 2019.

  • Visitors to South Africa: USD 506
  • (South) African citizens: ZAR 5,865

This fee includes:

  • Tented Accommodation
  • Three meals a day and snacks in between
  • Coffee and tea
  • Transfer on arrival and departure day to/from George Airport or the Knysna bus station to the accommodation
  • Workshops & Activations hosted by field experts

Not included are:

  • (International) Flights to/from George Airport or bus ticket to Knysna bus station
  • Additional drinks and snacks
  • Travel / medical insurance
  • Visa costs
  • Fees for additional excursions on an off day

We'd love to hear from you! Leave a message, and we'll get back to you shortly to help find you a valuable work placement where you can make an impact.

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