Amazon rainforest conservation

Ecuador (E52) | View map
£250 p.w.

Price is based on 3 months

Volunteer in a permaculture and rainforest conservation project in the Amazon

  • You’re in the Amazon rainforest!
  • Volunteer in Ecuador, alongside other international volunteers
  • Get actively involved in conservation and education
  • Suitable for those interested in conservation, and gap year students
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Project summary

The project is a centre for field research and education in the tropical rainforest region of the upper Napo river in the Ecuadorian Amazon, one of the most diverse areas of rainforest on earth. The station includes a reserve of 2,200 hectares, of which 70% is primary forest and the remainder is secondary growth.

The managers have dedicated their lives to conserving this verdant and incredibly diverse area and run two important projects to help the local communities maintain their ancient traditions whilst carrying out research. One is a centre for experimental silviculture, reforestation, seed collection, botanical gardens and environmental education. It is situated on the banks of the Rio Napo, a major contributor to the Amazon.

The second is a demonstration and educational farm, seeking to produce food using permaculture methods. Traditionally the local Quichua people clear areas of forest for cultivation, but due to thin soil structures and heavy rainfall the cleared areas suffer from chronic erosion and degradation after just two years. Through the use of organic composts, crop rotation and careful plant selection, this can be avoided using permaculture methods.

In addition to the research and conservation efforts, the centre teaches host tourists to promote and educate the role of conservation, particularly important given the continuing discovery and exploitation of oil in the region.

Volunteers are needed to support all aspects of the project and can be sure to benefit from the educational orientation of the project.

Volunteers will enjoy the great outdoors and will have a passion for conservation and the rainforest when they leave. It is suitable for gap year students as well as well as those looking for a career break to go and volunteer doing something completely different.

Volunteer roles and responsibilities

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Volunteers get involved in permaculture methods of gardening and farming, including making compost, planting food crops & weeding. The crops are used for food and the garden for demonstration and educational purposes. Associated with this is the tree nursery. Seeds are gathered from the forest and the saplings either planted locally or sold for income generation.

Volunteers will also have opportunities to work alongside forest rangers who patrol the reserve looking for evidence of illegal logging and poaching.

The Ecuadorian staff put a lot of effort into taking volunteers on guided walks through the forest and teaching you about the local uses of different plants and traditional ways of life in the rain forest. For anyone considering a career in conservation or the environment, or simply has an interest in these areas, this would be a perfect project.

Volunteers will be involved in the maintenance of the site, clearing trails and running repairs on the infrastructure. There is also a small, local school where interested volunteers may be asked to spend a few hours each week teaching English to local children.

How you can make a difference

The conservation work such as seed gathering, running the tree nursery, upgrading areas of secondary rainforest, research and teaching English to local children could not be done by local people, due to a lack of funding and resources for such projects. The work and income from international volunteers perpetuates the good work of the project and helps educate visiting tourists.

The presence of international volunteers helps raise awareness of issues threatening the rainforest. Oil has been found locally and its extraction would undoubtedly cause problems. The ‘international weight’ of volunteers strengthens the cause.

What is distinctive about this project:

This is an unusual opportunity to live and work in the Amazon, surrounded by virginal rainforest. It is a well organised conservation project that unites the needs of a community with sustainable conservation initiatives.

Blue Tiger Features:

This type of project naturally implies a reasonable amount of physical work. Volunteers will get used to using a machete, working in hot humid conditions, and the location inevitably means there will be insects, spiders and reptiles visiting.

With volunteers living together on site, in basic living conditions, this is a project for those who want something more simple and remote, albeit shared with a bunch of like-minded volunteers, in the Amazon!


There is no closed season for this project


The project is well accustomed to international volunteers and Spanish is welcomed but not essential

Experience required

No specific conservation experience is required, but volunteers will ideally have some experience of outdoors work and an appetite for living in more basic conditions. One of the joys of this project is living in a more remote area, but volunteers should be comfortable with this.

Good to know:

The project is some 6 hours travel from Quito, so less connected to the city and more on the doorstep of jungle adventures, including the opportunity for rafting, zip-wiring, trekking and mountain-biking.

Price table

4 weeks8 weeks12 weeks16 weeks

Includes: Comprehensive travel insurance (supplements may apply to older travellers). Accommodation, food, airport transfer, travel to projects, in-country support, welcome meal and up to 2 weeks of high quality 121 Spanish tuition.
Excludes: Flights, visas, vaccinations

Things to see and do

  • Visit the Amazon rainforest
  • Downhill mountain-biking in Cotopaxi
  • Go Wild in Banos
  • Visit the Galapagos
  • Straddle the equator
Monika Montes

Country co-ordinator

Monika Montes

Monika is superbly connected throughout Ecuador and has been working with Outreach International since 2003. She lives with her two teenage children in central Quito and plays host to many of our volunteers who work in the city. Monika’s passion for volunteering is reflected in her commitment and level of support that she provides. She speaks fluent English and is a qualified Spanish tutor.

About Ecuador