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Event / Project details

Project start
01 Aug 2013
Event / Project end

Event / Project duration
This project is ongoing

Event / Project ID
2667

Event / Project Name
CONSERVATION IN AMAZON RAINFOREST
Event / Project City
PERU
Event / Project Country
Peru
Preferred skills
No qualifications needed, just lots of enthusiasm for nature
Number of volunteers

Minimum age

Event / Project types
Conservation and Environment

IMPORTANT Before commiting to anything please contact the organisers as details may have changed.
PARTICIPATE Don't forget to take photographs and post in your personal profile page and albums

Brief overview

CONSERVATION IN THE AMAZON RAINFOREST

BIENVENIDO! - Welcome to the Amazon Rainforest! You'll begin your project in the ancient Inca capital city of Cusco where you'll receive an induction and orientation before starting on the fascinating journey through the High Andes to the Acjance Park Guard Station where you’ll learn about the Cloud Forest. Then you descend into the Amazon via motorised canoe down the Madre de Dios River. The journey is spectacular, an exciting adventure in itself!

LATEST NEWS! This Project has been awarded Rainforest Alliance (RA) verification mark for high standards of sustainability.

PLACEMENT OVERVIEW

Location: Manu
Start dates: All year round. There is one start date every month.
Duration:
 From 2 weeks to 1 year, subject to visa requirements.

Requirements: No qualifications needed, just lots of enthusiasm for nature. Minimum age 17.
Compensation: Unpaid.
Price: £1,195 for 2 weeks, ranging to £4,195 for 12 weeks.

What's included: ►Arranging your Programme, ►Full pre-departure support and assistance ►Payment Protection insurance ►Meeting you at the nearest airport ►Transfer down to your project ►Accommodation ►Food ►Free T-shirt ►In-country team support and backup ►24-hr emergency support ►Return transfer to Cusco ►Certificate of Completion.

What's not included: Flights, travel insurance, cost of visa, return transfer to the airport from Cusco. 

You'll be involved in fantastic conservation and community development work on this excellent multi-activity project!

On this multi-activity project you'll benefit from professional training and actively assist in the environmental monitoring study at multiple locations. The longer you participate on the project, the more skills you'll develop. You’ll also get involved in rewarding Community Development work with the local indigenous families and communities.

In the first week you'll be given a full induction and a brief look at all of the projects the centre is working on, after a while you'll be assigned one of those projects; dependent on your interest and the requirement at the time.

You'll benefit from excellent professional training and will definitely learn a great deal...whilst having an amazing time!

PROFESSIONAL TRAINING:

A productive volunteer knows WHY they are doing the work; they understand exactly WHAT the work is and HOW to do it. Volunteers are taught to be independent thinkers with skills to make a difference on projects. Volunteers will be trained on the following:

  • First Aid & basic rainforest survival skills
  • Tropical ecology
  • Conservation & sustainability
  • Natural history
  • Astronomy
  • Cultural diversity
  • Wilderness ethics & natural resources conservation
  • Flora & fauna monitoring
  • Reforestation & agro-forestry
  • Ethno-botany
  • Environmental education

WORK CONTENT: 

Below are some examples of the types of activities that are carried out at the Centre:

Mammal studies:

  • A platform observation point deep within the jungle, off the trail, enables volunteers to spend the night watching for mammals visiting a mammal claylick (or collpa).
  • The huge range of mammals living around the main camp and in and off the trails makes it possible to observe directly and indirectly the actitvities of different types of monkeys, tapirs, peccaries, armadillos, pumas and more.
  • If you want to focus on a particular animal, gather prints and set up an observation point the staff will be more than happy to share their local knowledge with you and help you create your own unique field guide.

Bird Studies:

  • The project has one of the only clay-licks (or collpas) in South America visited by the rare and endangered Blue Headed Macaw as well as many other species of large macaws, parrots and parakeets.
  • Population surveys are carried out recording what you see and hear on our daily afternoon parrot census walks in the jungle.
  • Your ability to identify species is enhanced by the use of recordings played to you in training as well as in the field practice. Due to the large number of species, volunteers assist the project coordinator with observation on the parrot census and at the collpa, by watching the sky and listening for birds with the coordinator, who will test you regularly to improve your knowledge!
  • The Blue Headed Macaw project links to a series of wider studies being undertaken across the neotropics into the nesting, mating and feeding habits of endanger.
  • Data inputting enables us to eventually analyse our findings and compare them longitudinally and geographically with other research stations.
  • Hummingbird feeding project. Construction of a ‘garden’ of different coloured hummingbird feeders (plastic bottles filled with sugary water), to try and associate species with different coloured plants.

Plant Studies:

  • Weekly all-day expeditions as part of the Biomass study to collect seeds, leaves and fruits from traps set deep inside the forest, to clean and maintain the traps fortnightly, to photograph changes in the canopy structure over time and to take part in Fenology surveys. (Fenology studies involve studying the patterns of fruiting, seeding, flowering and foliage to ascertain the dynamics of samples of the rainforest)
  • Sorting and recording the information collected from the traps and preparing for sending to Lima for analysis and eventual preparation of a unique and insightful report into the condition of this area of rainforest.
  • Understanding the medicinal and other uses of different types of plants by different groups living locally including Harakmbut, Matsinguenga and Yine by working with staff on the trails and in the medicinal plant garden, also by testing local remedies for everything from an upset stomach to rheumatism!
  • Data inputting enables us to share our findings and contribute to greater knowledge of the rainforest globally.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN ACTION

The centre has a range of ongoing sustainable development projects designed to test out new ideas and technologies for the Amazonian rainforest environment. These might include testing a new type of weather monitoring station, creating a waste water management system from natural materials, assessing best methods for monitoring the river flow and its impact locally on fauna and flora or conducting workshops with local people on alternative energy sources. Volunteers can get involved at every level and become a part of the change in the reserve. 

Cutting paths to form new ‘arrays’ for surveying the jungle is one example of science and development coming together. Arrays are large grids (each path is around 1 km long). They are the trails that the observers use when recording wildlife, plantlife and all forms of biodiversity, changes in climate and when conducting other specific scientific explorations. For mapping the paths and arrays volunteers go out with GPS units and use the information to draw maps of the area. Two examples of these arrays are plots currently being used by Oxford University to assess the carbon sequestration capacity of different types of Amazonian rainforest.

The Centre is keen to develop sustainable practices on the site and then, where successful, introduce these to the local population. One volunteer has set up a compost system and taught the staff to use it to make compost from the kitchen waste. This has tied in nicely with another volunteer's work to plant a garden on the site outside the accommodation buildings, (where the soil is particularly poor). Fruit and vegetables are flourishing in our onsite Biogarden which serves as a useful model locally particularly as anything brought in from the town tends to rot fairly quickly in this environment. 

During the day there are activities such as swimming in the river, though you can only swim if supervised and depending on river condition, it rises and falls very rapidly! Some of the staff are trained in climbing and may be persuaded to teach you how to access the canopy (climbing trees using ropes). Some scientists use this method in their work when studying birds or trees. It is safe (when under instruction) but can be difficult.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT:

Since 2006 the project has been working with local families and communities to change land management and improve livelihoods. Providing new models for sustainable agriculture and agro-forestry strategies that can be implemented by local people wither in their back yard or in abandoned agricultural land. Volunteers are essential in helping build infrastructure and source the bio garden materials as well as providing the monitoring and evaluation with local families.

Example Activities:

  • Collection and preparation of building material
  • Construction of irrigation and roofing systems
  • Seed germination, planting and monitoring
  • Production control and quality assessment 

Volunteer involvement in these projects is an important morale booster for local people living in often difficult conditions. 

Education projects:

  • The Ecology Club works with children from the local area who range in age from 8 to 18 years and, lead by their inspirational professor Fabien Julian, undertake environmental education activities in the local area and sometimes at the centre where it might involve walking the Interpretative Trail with its informative signs on flora, fauna and activities at each point or a discussion on climate change and how it will affect the local area.
  • Many local children and adults aren't aware of the importance of the rainforest globally. Volunteers can share their perspective and take part in cultural exchanges, making teaching materials, videos and conducting lessons at local schools to show that the rest of the world sees their homeland as very important and worth protecting!
  • If you can provide any English language tuition and practice for the staff at the centre who live locally, this would be very much appreciated. They are very keen and are happy to attend classes, do homework, etc. (Incidentally, there are also many opportunities for you to practice and improve your Spanish - or to start learning it from scratch!)

RESERVE BACKGROUND:

The Project takes place at a research centre in a large reserve located in the corner of Peru. It consists of various types of rainforest (The Amazon) and is rich in diversity. The importance of the Reserve was recognised in 1987 when it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It achieved this largely because of its renown as an area of abundant wildlife and high species biodiversity, many of which have not yet been documented.

The park is approximately the size of Wales (20,000 sq km). Some of the area is being opened up to limited ecotourism (and tourists pay up to US$300 per day to stay in the ecolodges!). The closest city is Cusco which is approximately 8 hours drive.

The Rainforest Centre that we work with lies within the Reserve near to a road and river. It is about 45 minutes drive from the nearest village. The design of the facility complements its surroundings using a fusion of traditional thatched techniques with modern design, while utilising the latest in natural resource management to maintain the site. As an added bonus, there is a waterfall that borders the site!

THE CENTRE AND ITS ENVIRONMENT:

The Centre itself covers 640 hectares in a seemingly endless rainforest which stretches across Brazil and to the Atlantic Ocean. This is the Amazon! Mammals in the area include peccaries, puma, jaguar, armadillos and various monkeys. Tortoises and lizards are also present.

Currently 365 species of birds have been recorded in the area, including parrots, hummingbirds and the rather bizarre Hoatzin. The resident bird expert, Claudia, is very enthusiastic about birds and her knowledge is truly exceptional. As one of our people said, "Working with her is a privilege!" Like any jungle there are lots of insects and there are also tarantulas and snakes, but these are not frequently seen.

"I have visited rainforests a great many times and this is by far the best I’ve seen." Paul White

There are many trails in the forest that are very productive in terms of wildlife because they are not used by tourists, but one of the main reasons the area was selected for study was that within a reasonably small area there is land that has been impacted by agriculture and human activity in the past. This is why there are such a variety of forest types within the private reserve (forests in different stages of re-growth as well as in different ecosystems).

It is through comparative studies between the old and new forest that conservationists aim learn more about the effect of human activity on biodiversity as well as the ability of forests to regenerate.

The environment is relaxing, with nice weather, good views, excellent accommodation and very pleasant company. Entertainment is very much home-made and there is a real community spirit among the volunteers whilst still allowing for ‘personal space’. Volunteers are well cared for whilst still having the excitement of being in the jungle. All the staff are enthusiastic, helpful and caring. There are some opportunities for engaging in leisure activities such as swimming and climbing.

The trip from Cusco to the Centre:

You will arrive in Cusco, where you'll be met by members from the Project and taken on to the Centre. This journey is by road and takes from 9 to 10 hours. Almost the entire journey is along an unpaved road and the last few miles are very unmade indeed! For some of the way it is a typical Andean road along the side of a mountain but the road is relatively ‘quiet’ with maybe 6 -10 vehicles passing every hour.

The scenery is stunning, including barren mountains, cloud forest, seemingly endless jungle, impressive valleys. There are places of interest to stop every hour or so, either to take photos or buy refreshments. The journey is very totally fascinating and adds to the sense of adventure! The last part of the journey involves crossing a river by boat.

Return transfer from the Centre in the Amazon to Cusco is included in the cost of the placement and is arranged for you by the managers in Peru. Those wishing to do some independent travel after their placement can opt to stay in Cusco rather than going straight to the airport. If you do choose to stay in Cusco for a while, you’ll need to make your own arrangements to get to Cusco Airport, which is about a 15-minute drive away and costs about $15-$20 by taxi.

Rainy Season: The rainy season is between November and April with the worst of the rain occurring from February to March. Work at the Centre does continue through the rainy season because the arrays (working paths) are designed to be useable throughout the year.

WHAT YOU'LL GAIN FROM DOING THIS PROJECT:  

  • Professional Training: Become a productive volunteer learning valuable field skills for career, degree or just for fun! (more below)
  • An exciting, never-to-be-forgotten adventure into Peruvian Rainforest life!
  • The enormous satisfaction of knowing that you're contributing to a worthwhile and necessary conservation project aimed at protecting and preserving our world for future generations.
  • New skills, more confidence, a greater understanding of a different culture, invaluable personal and professional development.
  • An entry on your CV or résumé that will put you head and shoulders above most others in the job market
  • And best of all ... an unforgettable experience! 

ACCOMMODATION & TRAVEL

This project is Idyllically placed on the edge of the Amazon Rainforest, on a hill next to a river. It has a ’nice’ feel to it. It is relaxed and peaceful, and has been tastefully constructed in keeping with its surroundings. At present the area has six thatched buildings. Three are accommodation houses with a classroom/workroom on the ground floor and a bedroom area above and you'll be sharing a room with other volunteers. All buildings have open walls and are fresh and airy.

The bathroom is a separate block consisting of six cubicles, each containing a (Western) flush toilet, handbasin and cold shower. There are also extra washbasins, and a large sink in which to do your laundry.

There is a dining and relaxation area, with tables and a few armchairs, as well as a library and covered hammock area.

Lighting is by candle (not allowed in bedroom areas) and there is generally no electricity on the site. There is, however, a generator which is run for a few hours every night in order to charge camera batteries etc. We recommended that you take out a portable headlight torch and a few other items, but we'll provide you with a list of recommended items to take with you before you leave.

Food: Food is provided and you'll have three meals per day - breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food is wholesome and mainly vegetarian. Often pasta or rice, soup, fruit juice. Not 5 star (it’s the jungle after all) but very acceptable. There is always a flask of hot water, tea, coffee and filtered (safe) drinking water available in the dining room. The cook is able to cater for a number of specialised diets, although choices may be limited.

Entertainment / Leisure:
This is the Amazon Jungle - unique and exciting and wonderful and tranquil and awesome - but it isn't a placement for people who want to party the night away. There are board games, books to read and other ‘quiet’ activities. At night this has to be by candle light. Most people start their work early and get up between 4 and 5 a.m., consequently people tend to go to bed early.

During the day there are activities such as swimming in the river, complete with vines to swing from ("Hello Tarzan!"). (You can only swim if supervised and depending on river conditions.) The manager is a keen climber and may be persuaded to teach you how to access the canopy, (climbing trees using ropes). Some scientists use this method in their work when studying birds. It is safe (when under instruction) but can be difficult.

Although there are lots of places to visit in Peru, there are few external places to visit while on your project. In the dry season Salvaccion is a 1¾ hour walk away (after crossing the river) and it is a safe walk. In the wet season it may be possible to reach another village by boat, but it would not possible to walk to Salvaccion. Sometimes it may be possible to get a lift with other volunteers or staff and perhaps spend a few days in Cusco. Generally, however, volunteers tend to stay at the Centre for the duration of their placement and visit Cusco at the end of their project.

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