About the Amazon Conservation Project
The Amazon is continually under threat from deforestation. This is due to illegal logging, mining, farm building and unsustainable agriculture. Its wildlife is also endangered by hunting. All project research exists to further conservation in this region.
The project site is on a 4,460-hectare reserve and is a part of the last frontier of virgin rainforest in the world. Many factors protect the reserve; a Forest Ranger protection system, as well as financial sustainability from education and volunteering. There is also community engagement and a sustainable development programme in the watershed.
Environmental volunteers and interns assist in the project’s conservation-focused, scientific research. The goal is two-fold. To develop management strategies based on data results and to educate volunteers to be worldwide ambassadors for research, conservation and education. This Amazon conservation programme will teach volunteers universal wildlife research methods. It will also prepare them for future careers and open their minds to new ideas. Research undertaken by the teams helps determine strategies for local conservationists. This is specifically in their aim of creating a Biodiversity Corridor.
We currently offer the following programmes to work with (it is possible to work with more than one).
- Conservation Pandemic Relief Task Force
- Mammal Conservation Research
- Herpetofauna Conservation Research
- Butterfly Conservation Research
- Bird Conservation Research
- Research Internship
- Forest Ranger for Conservation
- Permaculture and Forestry Conservation
- Creative for Conservation
Please note that the research programmes are variable, primarily depending on the season. River and stream surveys can only take place in dry season (May-September) as this requires low water levels. Tree climbing only in the dry season and transition months (April-October). All volunteers go through a period of skills training. This is about a week, however, this depends on the number of programmes selected and past experience.
Each project is a minimum of 2 weeks, but can be expanded to 3, or 4 weeks up to 6 months in duration. If volunteering for 1 month or more, volunteers may achieve higher levels of training, freedom, and independent research capabilities. You can find them all in detail below. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Charlotte@workingabroad.com for more detailed descriptions of the individual conservation and research programmes.
Conservation Pandemic Relief Task Force
From November 2020 – June 2021
A special team of volunteers, known as the ‘Conservation Pandemic Relief Task Force’, will operate from the research station in the Amazon rainforest and its operations headquarters in Puerto Maldonado. Volunteers will assist the local team in Peru with varied work for 4 weeks. This includes:
- Rainforest logistics and administration work
- Trail cleaning and maintenance
- Wildlife research programme setup
- Forest patrols
- Social media and emails
Volunteers will support the project with all facets of the daily routine required to get the research station back up and operational during the next 6 months. This is a temporary volunteer opportunity that is urgently needed to help the research station, after being closed since March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mammal Conservation Research Programme
The Mammal Research team aims to better understand the current status of the diverse wildlife found in the Las Piedras Watershed. The team uses two primary strategies: transects and camera trapping. It uses these to determine the presence and densities of certain mammals on the reserve, as well as the predator-prey relationships between them. It also looks at their foraging behaviour, impact of anthropic intervention and deforestation in nearby unprotected areas. Volunteers will learn how to run visual encounter surveys of mammals, setup and maintain camera traps, and revise and analyse the data collected.
One of the research priorities is the long-term monitoring of a wild resident Peruvian black spider monkey group. Volunteers will be on foot using GPS, record data on primate behaviour, and analyse the data to better understand the potential impacts of human development and land-use on primate populations. One main goal is to better understand the current status of the endangered Peruvian black spider monkey (Ateles chamek). Focus is also given to other species of primate found in the Las Piedras watershed when applicable.
Herpetofauna Conservation Research Programme
Best time to join: Rainy season (October – April)
This intensive programme focuses on population dynamics, behavioural observations and population status of herpetofauna groups. The team surveys the rivers, streams, palm swamps and the forest for all herpetofauna. It also focuses on the four species of caiman that reside in the region.
The caiman research focuses on the abundance, density, and distribution of the 4 species as well as specific environmental factors of habitat selection and use. Other current research efforts include an intensive assessment of the reproductive ecology of the Gladiator Frog (Boana boans), and a comparative analysis of herpetofauna trapping methodologies. The herpetofauna team also collects general baseline data on an opportunistic basis throughout the reserve. The research records the various species of reptile and amphibians in the conservation area.
Anaconda Conservation & Telemetry Study. The Herpetofauna team is operating the first-ever long-term study of the green anaconda (Eunectes murinus) within the lowland Amazon rainforest ecosystem. The team hopes to reveal new information about the anaconda’s range, behaviour, habitat and more.
Butterfly Conservation Research Programme
The Butterfly and Moth Conservation team focuses on assessing Lepidopteran population dynamics and biology. Opportunistic data is collected on butterfly host plant and feeding behaviour. The team uses common ecological sampling techniques, including sweep netting, light trapping and baiting. This allows the team to measure impacts from disturbance and track ecosystem health. As many Lepidopteran species act as indicator species.
The Entomology project works with other research organisations in the Peruvian Amazon. They all help create an accurate list of all butterfly species in this biodiversity hot-spot. The data also helps determine how human activities affect invertebrate species in and around the protected area.
Bird Conservation Research Programme
The ornithology team focuses on assessing avian population dynamics throughout the reserve. Using mist netting, point counts and opportunistic data, the team aims to further understand the biology of bird species in the region. The team also consistently monitor the macaw clay-lick located nearby. The programme also wants to further understand the impacts of nearby deforestation and anthropic intervention on bird populations.
Research Internship Programme
The Research Internship programme is for volunteers that want to carry out individual research projects. This can be for dissertations, university research requirements, projects or just general interest. Research proposals must align with the project’s research priorities and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. For more details, email Charlotte@workingabroad.com
Interns will be trained by the most applicable research coordinator and guided throughout their stay. Durations for internships range from 1 to 6 months. At the end of the placement, interns will receive a certificate of completion and a letter of recommendation, if requested.
Forest Ranger for Conservation Programme
Volunteers assist the indigenous Forest Rangers with their daily patrols. Rangers protect the important frontiers of the rainforest. They play a vital role in maintaining a presence on the 4,460-hectare reserve. As well as on the 5,500-hectares belonging to the partners and neighbours in the region. Their consistent presence is often enough to prevent illegal activities.
While on patrol, the Forest Rangers collect a wealth of research data. This helps keep track of wildlife populations and biodiversity. They also identify areas where impact to the forest may be likely to happen in the future. The Forest Ranger team also contributes to the long-term collection of core data sets. This is for both Neotropical mammals and for big trees. The rangers are also responsible for maintaining an extensive trail network and boundary lines. As well as all boundary signage and flagging. They also support relations with our neighbouring communities and forest concessionaires.
Permaculture & Forestry Conservation Programme
Sustainability is one of the highest priorities on this project. Previous volunteers have helped create a recycling system, a compost pit and a pilot project for composting toilets. Maintenance of these systems is essential. They must function properly. Thus, volunteers are asked to help in maintaining and harvesting the compost. In addition, volunteers get to use their own background to suggest new systems that the project may not be aware of. Permaculture volunteers also assist in the medicinal and vegetable gardens. As well as on reforestation projects. Be prepared to get your hands dirty!
Volunteer work on the Permaculture and Forestry team may find themselves practising composting and recycling. Encouraging other volunteers and researchers to participate in and learn about the sustainable systems; or planting gardens around camp, and creating new ways for the project to become more sustainable!
Creative for Conservation Programme
This programme uses media and art to connect people with rainforests. To do this, the project develops data, information and media. Then, it actively shares this content through open source portals, galleries and schools. An example of one initiative is a film series covering natural history and current topics in the Amazon. Another is the recording of forest sounds for a ‘chill-out’ album. All content is developed by the fantastic network of voluntary co-creators and participants.
The goal for the participant is to soak in the forest and create content that will engage and inspire people. Both locally and abroad. It is an important part of any volunteer work and, specifically, of conservation work in the Amazon.
Family Volunteering in the Amazon
Families can also join and contribute actively to the Amazon conservation project in Peru. The min. age required for children is 4 years, and we have set 4 and 7 day itineraries in case you only have little time to join. If you’d like to join for longer time periods alongside other volunteers, then this is possible too. Please don’t hesitate to write Vicky on the email above if you are a family interested in volunteering in the Amazon.
“We needlessly lose millions of hectares of rainforest every year due to unsustainable development, because too often value is calculated based on the short-term potential of the land that remains after the trees and animals have been removed. A key strategy for conserving rainforests is the development of sustainable economic activities alongside the ecosystem. Volunteers not only provide part of the workforce needed for sustainable development and associated impact assessment, they also form part of a circular value chain – learning from and enjoying the Amazon rainforest ecosystem while supporting its long-term protection.” – Amazon Project Director