What will I do on this Conservation placement in Costa Rica?
You’ll spend your days assisting with conservation work in Barra Honda National Park. Here are some of the tasks you’ll do:
- Help with biodiversity studies to develop effective conservation strategies
- Run environmental education campaigns in surrounding schools and communities
- Combat climate change and restore natural habitats through reforestation work
- Do maintenance work to keep the park running
Your work will focus on four main areas:
A large portion of your time will be spent collecting data for biodiversity studies. You’ll work with experts to survey wildlife and record details about their behaviours and distributions. With this information, the park will be better equipped to develop effective conservation strategies.
Butterfly surveys are particularly important to learn more about climate change. By analysing the altitude where different species are found, you’ll help create a clearer picture of how our planet is warming.
You’ll collect data during hikes through the dense forest, night walks, or conservation trips into the depths of the park’s cave network. Some of the species you’ll be surveying include:
- Scarlet macaws
You’ll also share your conservation knowledge with people in communities surrounding the park. This work ensures people continue to protect the reserve after you’ve finished your project. You’ll help communities appreciate the value of the forest and become dedicated to conserving it.
Through workshops, you’ll teach people strategies for eco-friendly living. This could include topics like how to start an organic farm or the importance of recycling.
Human expansion and forest fires, exacerbated by climate change, have caused the destruction of a large portion of Costa Rica’s forests. This has a devastating effect for a range of species. With much of their habitat destroyed, many animal populations have been drastically reduced.
You will help restore the habitat of many species. By working in the park’s tree nursery, you’ll care for young saplings until they are strong enough to be planted in the forest.
This reforestation work also helps combat climate change, by increasing the number of carbon dioxide-absorbing trees in the area.
Barra Honda relies heavily on volunteer support to continue their conservation work. As a volunteer, you’ll help with the running of the park. This could include tasks like clearing trails, maintaining fire breaks, or helping with general camp upkeep.
Although these seem like more menial tasks, they play an important role in the overall functioning of the park. For example, clearing trails means people will be less likely to walk through vegetation and disrupt the habitat of indigenous species.
For this project, we’ve partnered with government-run Barra Honda National Park. This partnership ensures the park has volunteers to support their important work. It also means our volunteers work alongside and learn from park staff, who are experienced professionals.
Where in Costa Rica will I work?
This project is based in Barra Honda National Park, a wildlife reserve in the northwest of Costa Rica. The park is located in the Nicoya peninsula, about a 25-minute drive from the town of Nicoya.
As a volunteer, you’ll live and work within the reserve. You’ll stay in shared volunteer accommodation in the heart of the forest. This is the perfect place to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of daily life and connect with nature.
During your free time, you can relax in a hammock, beneath the leaves of towering trees. Or challenge a fellow volunteer to a board game. With very little internet access, it’s the perfect opportunity to live in the moment, connect with fellow volunteers, and experience something completely different.
We set out the aims and objectives of our projects in documents called Management Plans. We use them to properly plan the work you’ll do. They also help us measure and evaluate our achievements and impact each year.
Ultimately, our Management Plans help us make our projects better. This in turn means you get to be part of something that makes a real impact where it’s needed. Read more about our Management Plans.
Measuring our impact
Our projects work towards clear long-term goals, with specific annual objectives. Every volunteer and intern we send to these projects helps us work towards these goals, no matter how long they spend on our projects.
Every year we take a step back and look at how much progress we've made towards these goals. We put together a Global Impact Report, which documents our achievements. Find out more about the impact our global community of volunteers, interns and staff make, and read the latest report.
Leisure activities and free time
With more than 25% of its land protected in national parks, Costa Rica is a nature lover’s paradise. It has everything from volcanoes to tropical rainforests, and magnificent waterfalls to beautiful sandy beaches. This tiny country is also renowned for its biodiversity and boasts an array of wildlife.
The vibrant city of Heredia, where most of our projects are based, is situated in the heart of Costa Rica’s coffee-growing country. With its large student population and close proximity to the exciting capital city of San Jose, Heredia has an active cultural and social scene.
You can easily reach the impressive Poas and Irazu volcanoes on a day-trip from Heredia. Many other popular tourist destinations, such as Arenal volcano and Monteverde cloud forest, are only a few hours bus ride away.
You're never far from the coast in Costa Rica. Spoilt for choice by the number of idyllic beaches, you'll have plenty of opportunities for water-based activities like surfing, swimming, or scuba diving in your free time.
There will likely be other volunteers in Costa Rica with you. So you can choose to explore on your own or as a group.
Safety and staff support
Your safety and security is our prime concern. We have many procedures and systems to ensure you have the support you need to enjoy your trip with peace of mind. Our Projects Abroad staff are available 24 hours a day to help, and will be on-hand to make sure you settle in well at your accommodation and placement. If you encounter any problems, they will be available to help at any time.
Find out more about safety and backup.