Volunteer in this unique prject in the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador
Historically after logging in the area, settlers set up homesteads, slashing and burning the surrounding forest in order to graze cattle. This left primary forest only in the least accessible areas. This project consists of 25 hectares of deforested pasture that is now an example of aided recovery.
The project mission is to restore and replicate the rainforest. An indigenous botanical garden is being created and the water courses protected and enhanced. Rainforest trees, fruit trees and plants with medicinal properties are being planted. Orchids and bromeliads are also propagated. From these primary activities a model is being created for the recuperation and protection of the rainforest that can be copied by local farmers and land owners. Horticulture training, conservation, recreation and educational projects take place.
The land resembles a beautiful wildlife park accessed by numerous trails. It demonstrates the economic viability of environmentally sound land use in an area that has suffered from appalling deforestation for short term gain.
The project acts as a well-run educational resource for local schools and the considerable number of families that own small holdings and depend upon the land for their livelihoods, teaching the benefits of improving and enhancing the environment rather than destroying it.
The project director is a multi-lingual ethno biologist. She takes a holistic approach to life recognising the importance of personal development through yoga while understanding and enhancing ones natural environment. When she is on site, she teaches and practices yoga, meditation and reiki, in a room beautifully designed to blend in with the surrounding forest.
Volunteers spend the majority of their time carrying out physical activities. This might involve hiking in the jungle with an indigenous guide to gather seeds, tending and planting saplings, working in the botanical garden or learning about and practising organic farming methods.
There is a small organic farm where coffee, exotic fruits and vegetables are grown. Natural herbicides, fertilisers and pesticides are made and plants grown for their medicinal purposes. Their uses are demonstrated to local land owners in preference to the more expensive, commercial inorganic alternatives.
There are occasional visits to schools promoting environmental awareness in the community.
The project needs volunteers to support their mission in respect of reforestation, food sovereignty, agro-ecology, organic agriculture and rainforest restoration. The model developed is one that offers a more sustainable and environmentally friendly solution for local farmers and volunteers are required to help make this happen.
The orientation of the project Director, demonstrated through the yoga and even the design of the project house, show this is as much about personal growth as it is conservation and education.
The journey was absolutely fantastic. Winding roads 7000ft up with waterfalls and green mountains, cloud covered valleys bellow, palm trees and more. Then suddenly I got my first sight of Cotopaxi!, Student, Ecuador