This project works to protect Ecuador’s dry tropical forest located on the coast of Ecuador. The reserve is located in Bahia de Caráquez, a coastal town in the Manabi province of Ecuador. Today only 2% of Ecuador’s dry forest remains intact resulting in a loss of habitat for the native flora and fauna of the area. Many of the coastal forests have been deforested for agriculture and fragile habitats such as dry forests, mangroves and other wetlands have been lost or severely degraded. The western forests of the Ecuadorian coast are considered to be the most fragile in the world due to the high number of species found in such a small area and this reserve aims to preserve the forest whilst educating others about conservation practices. Many of the species found in the dry forest area are endangered due to careless development practices and as little research has been done on the region, the reserve attempts to create data and information on the local species.
In the reserve to date 72 species of birds have been recorded, some 23 species of mammals, 7 species of reptiles, 4 species of amphibians and a variety of plant life. It has even been declared an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International.
The reserve stretches across 110 hectares crossing different ecological regions from sea level to mountains. The work of the reserve involves conservation, research, environmental education, sustainable development, and the promotion of natural resources in the region; it also supports the municipal authorities and civil society in Bahía de Caráquez, which has been declared an “eco-city”.
Volunteer activities vary greatly depending on the needs of the reserve, the time of year, and the campaigns that are taking place, however activities can included:
- Reforestation – collect seeds, work in the plant nursery, clear sites ready to plant new trees
- Trails – improve and maintain trails, build new trails, help with construction
- Observation & research – collect, identify, classify and photograph native flora and fauna, input data into database
- feed animals (1 donkey and 4 dogs)
Sometimes there are also educational tasks at the project, but there is no guaranty that these tasks will occur during your stay at the project.
- Education – for those interested in working with children they can help teach English in the community.
Please feel free to use your own initiative and see where your help can most be focused within the project. There are many different mini-projects you can take on during your time here and they are always happy to receive help and new ideas.
You will work from Monday to Friday and have your weekends free to explore the coast. Working hours are flexible depending on the tasks that need to be carried out, however generally you will work in the morning from 8am until 12.
The project is located in a nature reserve located in the coastal city of Bahia de Caraquez. Even though it is a project in the forest, the city of Bahia de Caraquez is on a walking distance (10 min). From Quito it takes about 8 hours to reach the city by bus.