Bilsa: Tropical Rainforest

  • community visit – enjoying the sugar cane
  • community visit
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  • farm visit in local community
  • reforestation 6136
  • reforestation project – preparing a nursery bed 6803
  • reforestation project – seed collection in the forest 6284
  • staff & volunteers with a Boa constrictor
  • volunteers on their way to Bilsa 6750
Bilsa: Tropical Rainforest

The station offers a volunteer program for those interested in protecting the remaining parts of the tropical rainforest of Ecuador

How can you help us?

  • Reforestation or maintenance of tropical rainforest.
  • Seed collection and selection of species for reforestation.
  • Planting seeds.
  • Rescue and maintenance of orchid garden
  • Maintenance and monitoring of forests trails.
  • Staking and maintenance of trees in reforestation lines.
  • Maintenance of trails and gardens around the cottages.
  • Maintenance of the garden with fruit trees (80 to 90 different species), medicinal plants and bananas.

Projects in groups of 2-3 people on the following topics:

  • Phenology: Study to determine when certain trees are with flowers or fruits.
  • Garden of orchids and bromeliads: there is a continuos work with rescued species in the forest which are planted in order to identify when they bloom. For this reason, a continuous monitoring and maintenance work is needed.
  • Maintenance of the trails in the forest: clearing trees, branches, fallen leaves on the trails.
  • Maintenance of cabins, infrastructure and gardens.

Studies targeting natural regeneration and reforested secondary forest:

  1. Natural regeneration in a 20x20m plot around a tree.
  2. This study is repeated for 26 different species of timber trees.
  3. Natural regeneration in 20x20m plots outside the seed trees in primary forest and secondary.
  4. Natural regeneration of trees replanted on a plot of 1 hectare.

NOTE: To participate in this study, volunteers must stay at least 2 to 3 months in Bilsa. It takes time to learn about the different species and the projects requires a lot of work. In addition, volunteers will spend more than 2 days a week for the project.

  • Medicinal plants: To lift and systematize information provided by local residents. Organize the data in a book with a detailed description of each species including photographs.
  • Systematic observation of birds for comparison with our existing list. Obtaining data on feeding, breeding, migration and others.
  • Assistance to visiting researchers who are doing research at the station.
  • Teaching children from a nearby community school in English or Environmental Education: Please note that there is no specific teaching materials for teaching English and environmental education. Classes are held only from May until the end of December.
  • Carpentry: making signs / banners for trails, cabins footstool.
  • Each volunteer should have a proposal with objectives and methodology for his personal project. It is better to come with an idea of ​​what you want to do because in some cases there is no material in site and you should bring it. The volunteer will have one day a week for the personal project
  • Hiking in the woods and rivers: You will have the opportunity to enjoy the stunning diversity of plants, trees, birds, insects, frogs, snakes and other wildlife that offers Bilsa, while realizing the importance of protecting what little remains (1-2%) in the coastal forests of northwestern Ecuador. Volunteers who stay at least one month can be sure to see the howler monkeys (and if they are lucky the Capuchin monkeys), sloths, agouti, ocelot, armadillo, a variety of frogs, snakes and lizards and birds (including the umbrella bird, tucans, aracaris, trogons, tanagers and manakin). In addition, interested people may participate in night walks.
A typical week schedule could be:
  • 2 days reforestation and maintenance
  • 2 days projects
  • 2 days hiking
  • 1 day off
Who can volunteer at Bilsa?
  • Students with knowledge of biology, ecology and environment and related.
  • Students who are traveling and want to learn, help and enjoy everything.
  • Students who need to fulfill community service or internship credits
  • Professionals who want to test their knowledge and learn new things
  • People interested in the environment and have field experience
  • Experience in Bilsa is for people who like adventure, work hard, enjoy life, have fun and share their experiences with rural people.

The work schedule is very much flexible, but volunteers will be working in the following activities:


Two days out of the week

Volunteers work in groups or mingas, on activities such as reforestation, maintenance of the station, construction projects.


Two days out of the week

Volunteers trek in the trails of the station. They will collect seeds, identify them and plant them. They will also collect scientific information about the flora and fauna observed during the trekking. Biodiversity themes will be presented by the staff during the hikes


Two days out of the week

Volunteers work on personal investigation and other applied project.


One day per week

Volunteers will participate with someone of the community to fabricate handicrafts of the area.


Once a month

Volunteers will visit one of the three surrounding communities Dogola, Mono and Cube. The visit is optional and the costs are not included in the fee paid at the office. $15 per person/per night (including all meals) and $15 for the mule there and back (transport of backpacks).


Once a month

Volunteer will participate in an overnight trip into the forest to observe animals.


Other activities

Volunteers that come for a month or more, have the opportunity to decide their days off. They have two options: either work from Monday to Friday and have Saturdays and Sundays off, or work 22 days in a row and have 8 days free.

Application Procedure

The Application Procedure consists in sending to us:

  1. Application letter indicating: experience in conservation activities, future interests, reasons for applying, preferred station and participation dates (participation dates are needed to guarantee space availability).
  2. Doctor’s note stating you are fit to participate in all activities required of you OR Proof of international travel Insurance.
  3. 2 passport size photographs
  4. If you have an original project include the work plan (2-5 pages)
  5. US$ 47 for the application fee (write check in USD currency to Fundación Jatun Sacha)

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