Killarney National Park

Woodland Conservation Project


All of our in-person 2020-2021 projects in Ireland have been cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic. Project details below are provided just for information purposes.

Killarney 2018

@Photos by Eliška šestáková, Belén Albor, Peter O'Toole

Since 2012, VSI has played a pivotal role in the fight against rhododendron in Killarney National Park through holding four, two-week summer volunteer projects annually. These summer projects attract volunteers from all over the world who are interested in this immensely important conservation work. Along with Conservation Rangers, including Peter O’Toole and Tim Cahalane, volunteers have used a variety of methods to help control the highly invasive and destructive Rhododendron ponticum. Volunteers have the opportunity to live within Killarney National Park itself, and work with a team to preserve natural Irish beauty.

This project offers volunteers an exciting opportunity to experience working in an extensive number of areas across the park while making a vital contribution to the conservation of key woodland habitats.

Project details

Project theme: Environment protection

Description: In the 19th century the rhododendron tree/bush (Rhododendron ponticum) was introduced and this has proved to be a highly invasive and destructive tree and has threatened to colonise large areas of the park. The rhododendron is threatening the bio diversity of the park and many native species of trees, shrubs, mosses are under threat.

Type of work: Volunteers will work on rhododendron control in remote areas of the park. This can involve stem treating mature plants with small tools, the picking of seedlings and cutting of saplings. National Park uses sharp tools (hatchets, loppers and secateurs) and a herbicide (diluted solution) as part of their strategy to control the rhododendron plants. The volunteers will be required to use these methods. Full training on the safe use of these methods and safety equipment will be provided by National Park.

Accommodation & food: In a modern hostel in the National Park itself. Dormitory style bedrooms; please bring your sleeping bag and a pillowcase. There are kitchen facilities in the hostel, food ingredients will be provided and the volunteers will share in the domestic duties of cooking and cleaning on a rota basis.

Requirements: The project work is based outdoors and a substantial amount of time might be spent walking through mountain and forest areas each day. Volunteers need to be prepared to work outdoors in various weather conditions. As the terrain is quite difficult and tough, volunteers need to be fit enough to handle this. For example there could be up to a 60 minute uphill walk to the worksite over rough ground.

Notes: The midge fly is widespread in the park as well as ticks so volunteers must be prepared to use an insect repellent and wear a protective net when working. The park will provide nets, gloves and rubber boots. Volunteers are also required to wear long sleeves and trousers while working.

Total number of volunteers needed: 14


VSI is a voluntary, non-profit organisation. In order to sustain our work, we need to charge our volunteers a Project Fee. 

VSI Project FeeWaged Unwaged/student
Projects in Ireland€85€55

The fee covers:

  • Administration costs involved in your placement
  • Your participation in the volunteer pre-departure training before the project and evaluation workshop afterwards
  • Health insurance while taking part in the project
  • Membership of VSI for one year

Our volunteer projects have the following key features:

  • Food and accommodation are free
  • Leisure and free time can be enjoyed after the day’s work and during the weekends

You can read about the project fees on our website here.

Killarney_3.project 2018 (2)

For further information of the park please continue here or contact You can also watch a short video of our volunteers in Killarney National Park filmed by Eco Eye:

Or read about recent experience of our volunteers from VSI Killarney projects on our website here, here and here!

Killarney NP Mateja great photo-large