Green holidays offer alternatives for volunteers

Not surprisingly, most people this summer will opt to go on holiday to relax on their chaise longues or to revel on the islands. However, those taking their leave in August who want something a little out of the ordinary and more creative can participate in one of the many volunteer projects run by environmental organizations. This year, too, these organizations are running several of these projects throughout the country, offering a wide variety of choice to anyone who wants to leave something more than just their money at the place they are going to visit. All that is required is a willingness to offer one’s services, a disposition for work and maybe – why not? – a thirst for adventure. 1. In Aetos near Florina with Arcturos. The Kallisto project of Arcturos is taking place in Florina over the entire summer and aims to protect the mountainous ecosystems, more specifically those of the bear and other large mammals. All you need to do is to state the dates and length of time you want to take part (minimum period of a weekend). You will be provided with accommodation in the organization’s installations and activities involve conservation, construction work and events to raise public awareness. For the first time, this year the project is also open to children and teenagers: From August 22 to 28, the organization can accommodate whole families that want to work on a voluntary basis, and from August 29 to September 4, teenagers aged 15-18 can take part in the projects, with the consent of their guardians. Information: tel 23860.41500 (Florina), 2310.555.920 (Thessaloniki), e-mail [email protected], [email protected], website 2. Taking care of injured animals on Aegina. The Hellenic Wildlife Hospital (EKPAZ) has created a sanctuary for wild animals on the island of Aegina where volunteers are lodged in dormitories throughout the year. So why not combine holidays on the picturesque island with voluntary work, offering your services for at least five days to the injured birds that arrive at the hospital daily? Information: tel 210.952.0117 (Athens), 2310.724.969 (Thessaloniki), website 3. Around the world with PEEP. It is also possible to travel abroad to help out with environmental issues. The Voluntary Work Projects (PEEP) give young people the opportunity to travel to over 50 destinations worldwide where they can live and work together with other fellow volunteers from around the world. This year, Japan seems to be the most popular destination. PEEP also runs programs in Greece, where volunteers take part in various activities in remote areas, such as maintaining traditional buildings, forest fire watch, and organizing events and exhibitions. Information: tel 210.382.5506, website 4. The Ornithological Society in Gialova and the Sporades. Two weeks is the minimum period volunteers can take part in the projects organized by the Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS) at the Gialova Lagoon near Pylos, in the Aegean and on the Sporades. For the first time, this year the HOS is organizing a project to heighten awareness and provide information to the public at the Antonis Tritsis Park in Athens. If you happen to be staying in Athens this summer, you can contribute to preserving the last ecological park in the city. Information: tel 210.822.8704, 210.822.7937, e-mail [email protected], website 5. With Mediterranean SOS on Sifnos. This year MedSOS organized a beach cleanup between May 15 and 30 throughout Greece in which 5,600 volunteers took part. If you were not there, you have another chance to take part in the projects taking place this summer. With your participation, you are obliged to join the network for a year but you will have the chance to visit the island of Sifnos and help in cleaning up the beaches, marking nature trails, recording flora and fauna, raising public awareness etc. Information: tel 210.822.8795, e-mail [email protected] 6. Protecting the monk seal on Alonissos, Skopelos and Kimolos. The volunteer projects on Alonissos, Skopelos and Kimolos will be run until September 30 by MOm, the society that studies and protects the monk seal. You will need to be available for two weeks and to send your application as soon as possible. The organization takes care of the rest. You will be involved in informing and raising public awareness. Information: Silia Krinou, 210.522.2888, website 7. At the WWF camps. WWF is running three projects this year: at Vovousa in Eastern Zagori to create a network of eco-tourist nature trails, at Prespes to maintain the organization’s Prespes building and on Lake Kerkini to build nests for birds. To take part, you must be aged between 18 and 35. There is a charge of 100 euros, which includes the annual subscription to WWF. The projects will be run in July and August and accommodation and food are provided with walks organized in the area. Information: Ilias Tziritis, tel 210.331.4893, website

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