Eco-Librium Sustainable Adventures - vacations and travel

Amazon and Galapagos Volunteer Adventure

Ecuador, South America

from $2,200* per person 14 Days Year-round
Comfort accommodations Exertion level: 5
Operator: Eco-Librium Sustainable Adventures 24 people max
  • Airport, ecuador near quito, ecuador
  • Volunteer Vacations trips
The Jatun Sacha biological station is a center for field research and education in the tropical rainforest region of the upper Napo river in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The station includes a reserve of 2,000 hectares, of which 70% is primary forest and the remainder is secondary growth.

The name “Jatun Sacha” means big forest, in Quichua, the native language of the majority of the people surrounding the reserve. In 1993 The International Children’s Rainforest Network declared Jatun Sacha the II Children’s Rainforest of the World.

The original reserve of 200 hectares was formed by land acquisitions conducted from 1989 to 1991 from donations by several conservation organizations concerned with the rapid loss of the tropical Rainforests in the Amazon and the world. In 1993, further additions to Jatun Sacha’s land holdings were made possible through donations from the International Children’s Rainforest Network.

During the first years of the Jatun Sacha Biological Station, scientific research has focused on collections and inventories of the biota. Checklist of the following flora and fauna groups are available: reptiles and amphibians, birds, trees, vascular plants, fungi, butterflies, and mammals. Ecological research has included multi-taxonomic monitoring and silvicultural trials. The Jatun Sacha station has also hosted a number of field-related biology courses directed at national and international students. The courses include medicinal ethnobotany, dendrology of Amazonian Ecuador, ecology of populations, Amazon jungle biology for ecotourism guides, and Save the Rainforest seminars for US high school teachers.

Studies have demonstrated that there are 250 different species of trees in one hectare, and close to 1,500 species of plants in the same area. Out of more than 1,000 species of trees catalogued by Neill & Palacios, in the Ecuadorian Amazon Basin, 17 new species were found within the reserve.

Besides these, the Jatun Sacha Reserve has yielded many new species to science, just to mention a few: in 1997, Michael Schwerdtfeger descried a new species of Passiflora, naming it P. Jatunsachensis; Gregory O. Vigle lists more than 112 species of reptiles and amphibians. So far 222 species of orchids have been collected by various persons.

Numerous bands of saddleback tamarins (Saguinus Fuscicollis) are seen often. 51 species of mammals inhabit the reserve, including large cats as puma and jaguar, demonstrating how well the area has been preserved.

Climate:

The average yearly temperature is 25ºC, it rains close to 5,000mm per year, on an average of 200 rainy days. The lowest rainfall is during the months between November to January and the highest occurs between April to July.

Objectives:

    Conserve and protect the natural environment.
    Promote biological research.
    Strengthen the technical capacity in conservation biology.
    Improve agricultural methods in the area through community extension programs.
    Research non-timber products for alternative sources of income.
    Develop reforestation models.
    Maintain a live collection of the most important and endangered plants of the area.
    Improve the health, nutrition and livelihood of the surrounding communities.
    Be the model for environmental education.

Locations visited/nearby

Ecuador, South America

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Special information

  • This is a custom departure, meaning this trip is offered on dates that you arrange privately with the provider. Additionally, you need to form your own private group for this trip. The itinerary and price here is just a sample. Contact the provider for detailed pricing, minimum group size, and scheduling information. For most providers, the larger the group you are traveling with, the lower the per-person cost will be.

Itinerary

Projects and activities:

The station has very important projects to help the local communities surrounding us:

One project is the Amazon Plants Conservation Center (CCPA), which is a center for experimental silviculture, botanical garden and agroforestry extension programs.

Another project is the Organic Farm (GO), a demonstration and educational farm for the communities, seeking to produce alternative food sources as well as incomes.

The handcrafts extension program includes weaving with traditional and new natural fibers and Tagua nut carving.

Natural History courses have been carried out at the station since 1985. Moreover, the Jatun Sacha Biological Station is constructing rural schools with internet connection to make information available to students that generally are not provided with libraries.

Communitarian telecenters have been set up for direct access to information and communication technologies.

Activities to support management of the Gran Sumaco National Park

Development of fish farms, native fauna production, and fruits and vegetables horticulture.

2 Week Galapagos Volunteer Project

The Galapagos Islands sit in the Pacific Ocean about 1000 km west of Ecuador. Because the islands were never connected to the mainland, many species of plants and animals are unique to the Galapagos. In 1835, the young naturalist Charles Darwin, arrived on the islands. His collections from the Galapagos became central to his theory of how species evolve.

San Cristobal is charming as the Capital of the Galapagos, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, located on it. This island is one of the 5 inhabited islands of the Galapagos archipelago that for decades has been dedicated to agriculture, mainly producing sugar cane and coffee. About 5,400 people live here, and many work for the government or in fisheries.

The highland forests of the populated Islands in the Galapagos chain have been greatly altered due to the introduction of exotic and invasive species of animals and plants. Highland conservation, development and poverty issues have been almost completely neglected by conservation, development and government agencies. As a result of the lack of fruit and vegetable production on the Galapagos Islands, boats from the Ecuadorian mainland unload fruits and vegetables to hotels, restaurants, and markets on a daily basis. Quarantine regulations are consistently ignored and at least two exotic and/or invasive plant or faunal species enter the islands each day. This is the reason why one of the main current problems on the Galapagos islands is the introduction of non-native species (plants and insects), estimated at one or two new species introduced to the islands every day, mainly through the importation of food to the islands from mainland Ecuador.

Importantly, the local population, lacking most government services and suffering high unemployment levels, is almost completely excluded from working in and benefiting from the tourism industry: tour operators do nearly all their business from their boats, ignoring business possibilities with local Galapagueños.

The biological station and reserve sites is located in the highlands of the island, on a 200 hectares site, where there is still native vegetation. The native vegetation consists of Miconias, ferns and other native herbacious species. The reserve is mainly an organic agricultural and habitat restoration project.

There are two main climatic seasons on Galapagos, the hot season from December to May which sees increased sea temperatures and occasional heavy rain fall, worst around January to February, off peak season and the cooler season June to November with more cloud form and misty patches leading to lighter rains, After June however trade winds can be significant affecting ocean temperatures which can dip to as low as 15ºC although with exception to the 2 months pre-mentioned, the islands are favourable to visit for most of the year due to their latitudinal advantage.

Objectives

The Jatun Sacha Foundation has worked to develop reforestation, habitat reconstruction, and agroforestry activities utilizing native species for the last 18 years throughout Ecuador. Consistent with past work, one of the objectives of this station is to develop the technology to reconstruct native habitat in the highlands on San Cristobal, and to serve as a centre for similar projects in the highlands on other populated islands in the Galapagos chain. The remaining native highland forests on the populated islands is quite limited due to farming activities in general, and the introduction of useful, but very invasive species from the mainland such as tropical cedar and Cinchona. The foundation has established a Plant Conservation Center for the production of native plant species for this work.

Regarding the habitat restoration aspect, the reserve is dedicated to eradicate invasive species of plants, especially a type of invasive raspberry, in order to plant native trees and vegetation. The reserve is currently implementing a biological corridor going from 150 m.a.s.l. to 550 m.a.s.l. to demonstrate the different native vegetation at different gradients of the island.

In addition, the foundation works collaboratively with local landowners to develop clean agricultural alternatives for the production of vegetables and fruits to sell to local universities, restaurants, and hotels.

Projects and activities:

    Reforestation for a 15 has corridor with native species of San Cristóbal (Jatun Sacha, Selligmann Foundation).
    Four hectare reforested near cabins.
    Nursery and Breeding ground implementation.
    Exotic plant species eradication.
    Environmental programs and natural resource management.
    Botanical Garden.
    Organic agriculture development for local consumption.
    Technical assistantship and collaboration with Galapagos National Park.
    Reforestation activities with the participation of local people and several NGO’s.

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