WORK CONTENT AND DESCRIPTION
Would you recommend this
placement to anyone else? Yes, yes, yes and a hundred million times yes!
Begin your programme in the Inca city of Cusco where you'll receive an induction
and orientation before travelling through the High Andes to the Acjance Park Guard
Station and the Cloud Forest. Then you descend into the Amazon via motorised canoe
down the Madre de Dios River. The journey is spectacular, an adventure in itself!
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 according on
your interest and the requirement at the time.
“This is an experience of a lifetime, one for people from all walks of life. Also
anyone who likes great food because the food is awesome here considering where we
are. Also, the bathrooms are heaven compared to places even back in the UK. It has
been an amazing experience for me in so many ways. I’m even thinking of coming back
to Peru to work in the future, maybe in conservation. All in all, I’m becoming very
used to this way of life and not looking forward to going back home.” Lawrence Smart
PROFESSIONAL TRAINING ON ARRIVAL:
On your arrival in the Rainforest and after settling in, you'll undergo a training schedule which is designed to introduce you to the rainforest, how it works and arm you with the necessary skills and knowledge to start constructively participating on projects with field staff. The training will maximise your experience and introduce you to the various projects that are running at the centre. The training you receive will differ depending on the length of your programme and could include the following aspects:
- First Aid & basic rainforest survival skills
- Tropical ecology
- Conservation & sustainability
- Natural history
- Cultural diversity
- Wilderness ethics & natural resources conservation
- Flora & fauna monitoring
- Reforestation & agro-forestry
- Environmental education
The centre will try to match volunteers to their interest, providing an exposure
to all the projects in the first week and then assigning volunteer to tasks they
find interesting and where they will have the most impact. This tailored approach
enriches the volunteer’s time and creates better overall results.
There are many different types of projects on the go at the same time, but you will
also be guided and encouraged to work on your own projects as well. The degree to
which you'll run or assist on such projects will depend upon your abilities. Below
are some examples of the types of projects and activities that are carried out at
The aim of this project is to prove the importance of regenerating the rainforest
as a habitat for different mammal species. This is achieved through a combination
of activities, such as the setting up and monitoring of camera traps, tracking and
setting up transects.
More than 37 species of large mammals have been recorded at the centre, including
13 individual Jaguar. 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 activities
of different types of monkeys, tapirs, peccaries, armadillos, pumas and more.
Globally, and in the Amazon, large areas of tropical forest have been replaced by
agricultural land. The study of processes in these disturbed areas is import. In
Peru, the main cause of this is the increasing migration of people to the forest.
The area around the centre is ‘natural laboratory’, made up of patches of regenerating
forest with different human disturbance. These plant communities are not going to
undergo further disturbance and so this allows the centre to study the flora and
how it has been affected by disturbance. Monitoring changes in the biomass levels
enables the centre to gather information about the regeneration rate of the forest
and determine whether the reserves of carbon in the forest are changing.
Volunteers set up ‘leaf litter traps’ to collect data within four different forest
types. Materials are collected weekly, studied and the data recorded. Canopy photos
are also taken, with data recorded to detect seasonal and successional changes in
the forest light. Volunteers are also taught about phenology (to learn more about
growth, flowing and fruiting patterns of various tree species). Marked trees are
visited every 4 weeks and the status of each tree is recorded and studied.
Peru is home to 20% of the Worlds’ bird species. Species composition and overall
avian diversity can signify many different things about the forest. The centre
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 also carried out; recording what is seen and heard during
regular 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.
The centre is also involved in an important Blue Headed Macaw monitoring programme.
This bird has been classed as vulnerable and threatened with extinction, due to
loss of habitat and exploitation by the pet trade. Volunteers monitor the clay lick
every morning to record numbers, activity and tourist impact. This ongoing programme
has identified a correlation between decreasing numbers and increasing tourist numbers.
Long term, it is hoped this study will reduce disturbance and help to make a positive
contribution towards conservation of the species.
Amphibian & Reptile Studies:
Amphibians are excellent indicator species as they are extremely vulnerable to changes
in their environment. They are often one of the first groups of organisms to respond
to changes in climate (or microclimate) caused by deforestation and other human
activities. Reptiles are another important indicator group, as they are both predators
and prey. Any changes in the food web can have a knock on effect, making reptiles
an ideal group to study. Almost 30% of the worlds assessed reptile species were
listed as threatened and are greatly understudied.
Volunteers carry out various studies, including transect surveys. This involves
walking slowly along a 100m trail through the forest looking for amphibians and
reptiles on leaves, branches or on the ground. Any that are seen are caught and
brought back to be identified, weighed and measured before being released back in
the same habitat type. In the last 2 years four species of frog which may potentially
be new to science have been discovered in the surrounding reserve!
Butterflies are important in ecosystems as pollinators to many plant species. They
are good indicators of the quality of habitat and are sensitive to any changes,
which means that they are an ideal group to study when looking at regenerating forest.
The centre is creating an inventory of the butterfly species to gain an understanding
of their distribution between the 3 forests types that differ in their disturbance
Volunteers set up butterfly nets baited with fermented banana at 3 different heights
in the 3 main forest types. The nets are left in the forest for 6 days and are
checked every 24hrs after they are set up. Butterflies are retrieved from the net
and identified against guides. They are also marked so they can be recognised if
recaptured. If the butterfly is not in the guide, then it is taken back to camp
and photographed so it can be added before it is released. The traps are re-baited
each day except for the 6th day when they are taken down. There are currently 4
butterfly survey sites in each forest type and the nets are rotated around each
of these every time the project is run which is every 3 weeks.
TWO-WEEK PROGRAMME AND LONGER PROGRAMMES:
The two-week programme offers a snapshot and tangible life experience of conservation research and community development in the amazon rainforest. It is an opportunity to live and work alongside conservation researchers and community development staff and understand the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis and what their work entails. Please note this programme is not designed to provide an in-depth learning experience, because time does not permit this.
If you are looking for a more in depth learning programme then please consider doing the 4 weeks or more programme.
These dates are for the 2-week placements. Start dates for longer placements can be adjusted to include more start options (please speak to us if you need a different start date).
2018 Start Dates