Environmental Volunteer Program, South Africa

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

Join an exciting academic environmental volunteer program in South Africa this year! 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.

Garden Route, South Africa
Environmental NGO
Sustainable development, Permaculture, Eco-building, lLandscape restoration
19-26 September 2021 (1 week)
USD 380

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 170,000 trees at schools and other urban sites as well as forests and farms across South Africa, Malawi, 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 focused on regeneration through planting of indigenous trees, introducing ecosystem services, removing alien vegetation and catchment management.

There are many local environmental and social initiatives to protect against another disaster and as an implementing partner in the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration 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.

Check out the video!

What you’ll do

You’ll get involved in the following activities:

  • Reforestation – Get your hands dirty planting trees, turning soil, and digging
  • Urban tree planting at local school – At local schools, we plant indigenous trees, teach young students about the value of caring for our beautiful planet and do big school clean up
  • Eco Education Workshops
  • 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
  • Mural painting

And there is also plenty of fun time with live music, film screenings, workshops, beach clean-ups, campfire jams, hikes, and other activities

  • 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.
  • Desire to make an impact!

You’ll be staying just outside of Plettenberg Bay, on the famous and stunning Garden Route. The Greenpop Village will be set up at at Wild Spirit Lodge – located near Plettenberg Bay in the heart of the Garden
Route. There you will pitch your tent in a beautiful tented camp area 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. The lodge is surrounded by indigenous forests, in the proximity of pristine beaches and the Tsitsikamma National Park.

N.b. If you don’t have your own tent, you can book one, or 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.


The program only runs from 2-9 October 2022. Arrival is on a Sunday and departure one week later on a Sunday. 

What you’ll pay (2022 rates)

1 week USD 370

(South) African Residents: 1 week – ZAR 5,200

Please note the program fees are inclusive of VAT.

What you are paying for:
  • 7 -Day sustainability experience with workshops & activations hosted by field experts
  • 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
  • Tent: you need to bring your own tent or if you want you can upgrade your accommodation and book a tent or room upgrade.
  • (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
Garden Route, South Africa
Environmental NGO
Sustainable development, Permaculture, Eco-building, Landscape restoration
2-9 Oct 2022 (1 week)
USD 370

My experience at this program changed my life and priorities. It revealed to me a whole new world of nature! It was an incredible personal journey; I discovered a sense of purpose in being equipped with knowledge to be able to make a difference to our precious earth in so many different ways. Now I am constantly striving to learn more about the complexity of nature. They definitely struck the right balance between entertainment and education, among other things. There is nothing quite like being completely surrounded with like-minded people with a common love for nature and goal to improve our environment! The days I spent camping with other volunteers were some of the best of my life. This is what you can experience during this week! I am incredibly grateful for igniting the spark towards my journey with nature.

Gaby, South AfricaEnvironmental Volunteer Program, Garden Route
  • 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
1 WEEK USD 370

See Detailed Rates

Internships with this nonprofit
How to apply?

If you are interested in joining, send an email to info@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.

Or if you’d just like to ask us some questions about this programme first, just fill in the contact form on the right. We’ll be happy to assist!


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