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Cloud Forest Conservation & Sustainability Volunteer Project, Ecuador

Reference   (Please mention Stopdodo/Environment Jobs in your application)
Sectors Terrestrial / Aquatic Ecology & Conservation
Location Ecuador - America South
Salary Additional Information Voluntary
Type Temporary / Contract / Seasonal
Status Full Time
Level Voluntary & Interns
Deadline 24/02/2016
Company Name WorkingAbroad Projects
Contact Name Vicky McNeil
Telephone 01273 479 047
Email victoria.mcneil@workingabroad.com
Website Further Details / Applications
WorkingAbroad Projects logo
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The aim of this programme is help to conserve a part of the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest by participating in tree planting, trail work, research activities, sustainable living and food production as well as some community projects.  You can take part in 4 programmes: Cloud Forest Conservation, On the Way to Sustainability, Social Education and Travelling, Volunteering, Learning (TVL).

You can join for 1 week up to 12 weeks year round. We have places all throughout 2013 and 2014 available.

Individuals, groups, students doing research and families all welcome.

The Project

 We are offering four different types of programmes:

  • Cloud Forest Conservation Programme
  • On the Way to Sustainability Programme
  • Social /Education Programme
  • TVL - Travelling, Volunteering and Learning
For all programmes (except TVL), volunteers are needed for periods from 1 week up to 3 months. Beyond 3 months is also possible, but then you need to get a visa.

Cloud Forest Conservation Programme

Activities include:
  • Planting150 native trees per person within the group (groups of 4-8 usually)
  • Designing and opening a new trail in the reserve
  • Maintaining existing trails
  • Collecting data for the station's research projects
  • Maintaining and improving the medicinal and meditation garden

On the Way to Sustainability Programme

Activities include:

  • Working in the organic vegetable garden
  • Alternative animal production
  • Coffee, banana and citric production
  • Bio-food production
  • Eco-construction
  • Sustainable wood production, and
  • Medicinal garden work 

Social/Education Programme

This involves working at La Hesperia school which is based on the Montessori philosophy, the school is located close to the station. Pls note, volunteers should have an advanced/medium level of Spanish to participate on this programme and the minimum duration is 4 weeks. Projects include:
  • teaching English using the Montessori method (one school year commitment required from March to December)*
  • teaching special subjects (arts, sports etc )

* Teaching English using the Montessori method is an internship position and has different conditions.


2 weeks - Travelling, Volunteering and Learning Programme (TVL)

This is a programme which is ideal for those who do not have much time to travel (two weeks), but still want to do something worthwhile. It includes:

  • reforestation, forest conservation and planting native and endangered species,
  • hiking in the cloud forest,
  • trip and overnight stay to a local indigenous community,
  • opportunity to learn about medicinal plants and meet shaman for healing (optional),
  • eco-construction workshops,
  • ecological research techniques,
  • sustainability - organic agriculture as well as bio food production, (ie cheese, yoghourt, pasta, coffee etc)
  • conservation lectures and practices,
  • camping and learning about survival techniques, shelter building, finding edible foods,
  • visiting local school and nursery.

Optional to include Spanish classes as well. Suitable for individuals or groups of students, friends etc.  Please enquire for dates.  If you can make up a group of at least 5 participants, then any date would be fine.

For any questions on the above, please email Vicky McNeil.

Further Details

Volunteer Activities for Cloud Forest Conservation and On the Way to Sustainability Programmes:
  • Forestry Programme: Restoring Degraded Areas - The station is working to restore several areas through natural regeneration and by reforesting them with tree species important to the natural environment. Volunteers assist in collecting and planting seeds, maintaining the nursery, transplanting seedlings, tree care, opening reforestation lines and conducting forestry inventories of planted trees to evaluate their growth and survival.
  • Sustainable Wood Production - Due to the worldwide demand for hardwood it is important to plant trees for sustainable use, instead of cutting old-growth trees that belong to the natural forests. Since the steep geography of the region does not permit intensive agriculture and cattle farming, the best economic alternative is wood production. In addition to trying to resolve poverty, forestry also contributes to the fight against global warming; an average of twenty tones of carbon dioxide is absorbed per year by one hectare of trees in growth. At the station we are planting several species of trees for sustainable use, including mahogany, cedar, colorado and tangaré among others. As we research the best methods for sustainable development, we will share our knowledge of agro-forestry with local communities to encourage and enable them to adopt a similar approach.
  • Wildlife Programme - Birds inventory (volunteers with expertise in bird-watching). Volunteers are in charge to plant botanical species that will provide food for the wild animals. Also they will report any mammal sightings, for the Mammal sight-frequency research, and will monitor nests when found.
  • Research - Volunteers will collect and analyze data from the different research areas, such as hardwood trees’ phenology, germination success of important species etc. In addition, volunteers will collect basic weather information such as temperature and rainfall.
  • Organic Vegetable Garden - Preparing soil, planting seeds, weeding, harvesting and general maintenance.
  • Trail Maintenance - Volunteers will maintain or create the trails of the reserve with a machete.
  • Medicinal Garden - Volunteers will maintain the medicinal garden and meditation area.
  • Organic Agriculture: - Maintenance of banana, coffee, sugar cane, citric fields (clearing with a machete, weeding, fertilizing, pruning, harvesting mature products).
  • Alternative Animal Production - Cows, pigs, chickens, goats, horses, mules, ducks, geese, rabbits. Volunteers will participate in activities like: feeding these animals, planting the crops to feed them, maintenance of pastures, fencing, milking and taking the milk on the mule into the town.
  • Bio-food Production - Volunteers will participate in the process of preparation of home-made cheese, butter, yogurt, chocolate, coffee, pasta, bread, pizza, dry fruits and vinegar.
  • Eco-construction - Construction with COB, bamboo and wood depending on the time of the year. If at the time of your stay there is not a current construction project, if volunteers are interest the staff will conduct a COB workshop.
  • Alternative Energy - We will continue with the evaluation of possible energy projects, consulting experts and making agreements with relevant institutions.
  • New Ideas - Any volunteers with the relevant experience may contribute by helping to write grant proposals and other communications on behalf of the reserve.
Volunteer Activities on Social/Education Programme

Ecuador is a country rich in culture, fourteen ethnic groups co-exist with their own language and Cosmo vision. However, in a country where 80% of the people live below the poverty line, opportunities for volunteers abound. Education is considered the most effective way to reduce poverty and to increase the quality of life of local communities. Therefore, at the reserve, in 2010 we created La Hesperia School, where the children learn using mainly the Montessori Philosophy, which respects the children`s need and desire to learn. At the moment we work with children between 3 and 6 years of age. The idea is to add grades every year until completing a full primary school (until age 12). Details of this programme and an outline of the areas in which volunteers can be involved are given below.

  • Volunteer’s Profile: This programme has been designed for volunteers with advanced or medium levels of Spanish language, with interest in education, social development, cultural exchange, practice of Spanish and working with children
  • Volunteer activities -
  • Option 1. Teaching English position. - The intern will teach English using the Montessori Methodology and other prepared curricular materials. For this, the intern will receive a short course on the Methodology upon their arrival at the reserve. However, we highly recommend, before applying to this programme, that interested candidates conduct their own research about the Montessori method. In addition, the intern will teach English to the staff in the afternoons for one hour. The minimum commitment for this position is one school year (March to December). The intern will receive accommodation at the volunteer house and food at the reserve, although they will still need to pay the application fee. This position is only available for one person at a time; therefore, you must contact us in advance. Email Vicky McNeil for more details.  
  • Option 2.- Teaching special subjects.- The volunteers will work at the school for one hour per day during their stay, and they will lead special workshops on topics about which they have experience. Fields that we encourage are: Arts (Music, painting, sculpture, acting, dancing, and singing) and sports. Volunteers can combine this option with activities of the Cloudforest and On the Way to Sustainability Programmes. The minimum commitment is four weeks.

ALTERNATIVE RURAL EDUCATION NETWORK (RED ERA): The Reserve´s School is part of the RED ERA. The Network fosters a quality education, with emphasis on respect, liberty, autonomy, creativity, the rescue and the valuing of cultural identity and the innate desire of learning, using alternative teaching methods such as Montessori. Thanks to RED ERA, there is an exchange of experience, knowledge and resources among its members, thus ensuring an excellent education for the children in the educational centres. The network encompasses four schools: La Hesperia, El Cucuyo, Quitsato and Despertar. The Tangaré Foundation can coordinate visits or volunteer activities in the other schools.

Volunteers will rotate their work schedule doing the above tasks, working about 7 hours each day Monday to Friday.

Additional details

For more information regarding this opportunity, please visit the main project page here, or contact Vicky McNeil here. The application form can be found here, though it is advised that applicants express interest before applying, in order to discuss personal situations.

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