If you love incredible scenery and the power of giving back, it’s time to get involved. Taking place in April 2023, The Faroe Islands is once again planning to Close for Maintenance – and is calling on volunteers worldwide to sign up and roll up their sleeves
With just 100 spots available, keen adventurers can help to preserve the natural environment next April in the Faroe Islands – located in the North Atlantic, between Iceland and Norway – for the future good of both locals and visitors alike.
Now in its fifth year, Closed for Maintenance volunteers in 2023 will scale new heights by helping to maintain Slættaratindur, the Faroe Islands’ highest mountain. Two days of maintenance work on the path leading up the mountain will be required, creating alternative – and safer – routes, together with wayfinding posts, and repairing paths that have eroded due to the many visitors.
Although the islands do not currently suffer from over-tourism, the fragile natural environment in some popular tourist locations has felt the effects of around a 10% growth in visitors over recent years; annual visitor numbers are now around 110,000, and increasing.
Registration will open on Tuesday 15 November at 11am GMT for just 24 hours. 100 participants will be selected at random to help maintain and preserve these beautiful Faroese landscapes.
In return, they will be offered free accommodation, food and transport on the islands over the three-night visit; they will, however, need to cover their own travel costs to the islands (although a discount code to put towards flights by national airline Atlantic Airways will be provided).
Maintenance projects will take place over two days, from 20-22 April 2023, with 10 popular tourist sites closed to the general public – including the Faroe Islands’ highest mountain – during the project. Specific tasks and activities will be identified as those which are most urgent (and which will be most useful both to visitors and to local inhabitants) by a mix of local municipalities, tourism centres and local villagers.
Volunteers will work alongside Faroe Islanders to help pave the way for a sustainable future. At the end of the project, all volunteers will enjoy a celebratory evening, with a meal of typical Faroese food and local beer, and a traditional folk dance in which all will be welcome to participate.
Previous Closed for Maintenance, projects have seen extraordinarily high numbers of volunteers offer their time, with thousands of applications from people worldwide. The previous voluntourists who have taken part have represented more than 25 different nations, all working together with the local Faroese, and making a tangible, positive difference to the environment.
The project has also created a new and wider understanding of what it is like to live year-round on small islands in the wild North Atlantic – it’s a harsh environment, with more sheep than people.
The Faroese hope that their annual project will also inspire other countries to set up their own Maintenance Crews, encouraging visitors to help to redress the impact of tourism worldwide.
Says Jóhan Pauli Helgason, head of Development at Visit Faroe Islands commented: “The Closed for Maintenance initiative is a true example of how tourism can contribute to the regenerative development of a destination. People, both locals and international visitors are eager to make a difference and we have been amazed by how much can be achieved over two full days of work when everybody has the same goal. We believe that other destinations can benefit hugely from initiatives such as Closed for Maintenance.”
Registration to become part of the 2023 Maintenance Crew will open on Tuesday 15 November at 11.00 hrs (UK time) and will remain open for 24 hours; 100 people will be chosen randomly to take part and will be notified by email in January.
Volunteers will be provided with basic food and local accommodation while on the islands, with a discount code to put towards flights. Local transport to sites where maintenance projects are due to take place will be provided, too – by ferry and other forms of transport. Walking boots are a must, as is a “can do” attitude, but there is no requirement for any particular skills.
Make it happen
When: The maintenance work will take place 20-22 April 2023
How: Registration to become part of the 2023 Maintenance Crew will open on Tuesday 15 November at 11.00 hrs (UK time) and will remain open for 24 hours; 100 people will be chosen randomly to take part and will be notified by email in January. Find out more and sign up via visitfaroeislands.com.