Young people under 30 are being encouraged to volunteer for projects across the EU as part of the new European Solidarity Corps initiative, and helping to preserve, enhance or restore Europe's rural environment is one area for potential action.
Launched by the Commission in December 2016, the European Solidarity Corps aims to encourage young people to contribute to society and show solidarity by volunteer activity in a wide range of projects of general interest such as education, health, integration of migrants and refugees, provision of food, environmental protection, prevention of natural disasters, etc. Several activities are related to rural development and environment, where actions could include anything from the protection of vulnerable landscapes to helping prevent natural disasters by cleaning woodland to prevent forest fires.
The Commission is supporting Solidarity Corps activity in this area with €3.3 million through its environment and climate change and rural development funding programmes (respectively LIFE and EAFRD), with a focus primarily on exploring the potential of using volunteer work for environmental protection activities.
A call for proposals is already underway with the aim of selecting between five and seven small organisations, or a smaller number of big organisations, in Europe which will coordinate the use of volunteers to work in environmental protection activities across the EU. Applications for proposals can come from public bodies, private commercial organisations and private non-commercial organisations (such as NGOs). Volunteers can work for anything from two to 12 months, and the reimbursement of the individual support for volunteers and their travel costs will be co-financed with a rate of up to 75%.