Guandera: Upper Montane Forest and Paramo

8 DAYS - 7 NIGHTS
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Guandera: Upper Montane Forest and Paramo

The station offers a volunteer program for those interested in protecting the last remnants of Andean forest that once covered most parts of the Andes of Ecuador

Volunteers contribute to the goals of the Station Guandera, which are:

  • Retain parts of the last remnants of the interandino cloud forest.
  • Conduct scientific research.
  • Collaborate in community development.
  • Environmental education activities.
  • Promote organic agriculture.

How can you help us?

Volunteers participate in activities focusing on the conservation of the Ecuatorian Andes:

  • Center for Andean Plant Conservation: experimental forestry, phenology, seed collection, agroforestry and reforestation.
  • Maintenance and expansion of the botanical garden featuring Andean orchids, medicinal plants, ferns, mushrooms, spices, flowers and native guandera.
  • Planting of Andean fruit.

Organic Agriculture:

  • The station contains an Andean tubers organic garden in order to practice organic farming techniques and share this experience with local communities. Volunteers help preparing the soil, plant seeds, harvest and do maintenance of the garden.
  • Agroforestry practices with organic vegetables within the community.
  • Vermiculture.
  • Production of organic pesticides and herbicides.

Research in the high Andean forest and paramo:

  • Natural regeneration project fot Guandera tree.
  • Study of flowering and fruiting times of nine plant species.
  • Activities associated with biological inventories (especially of flora and birds) herbarium collections on the trails of the reserve.
  • Collecting data from the meteorological station.
  • Assistance in research projects.

Other activities:

  • Activities related to native guinea pigs.
  • Project to develop wood handicrafts which represents the biodiversity of flora and fauna in the forest.
  • Maintenance and development of the reserve trails and its signs.

Community development:

  • Once a week volunteers can participate in the development of organic agriculture with local farmers, including methods like planting, spraying and harvesting of typical Andean crops.
  • Environmental education program for children, youth and adults in the community of Mariscal Sucre.
  • Teaching English or other subjects to elementary school children in the community.

Cultural Exchange:

  • Spanish lessons, dance classes, and meetings in a friendly atmosphere with a fireplace to talk about our and our country, people and nature.
  • Eco tourism in the province of Carchi.

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.

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

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Conservation in the Ecuadorian Andes

Center for the Conservation of Andean Plants: Volunteers participate in experimental silviculture of Andean trees, they assist in seed and data collection, maintaining the nursery, transplanting seedlings, opening reforestation lines and in reforestation. There is also an orchid garden that requires maintenance and enhancement.

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Looking for sustainability

Organic Agriculture: At the station we have a breeding ground to practice organic agriculture techniques and share the experience with the local communities. Volunteers help preparing the soil, planting seeds, weeding, harvesting and with general maintenance. Also, once a week volunteers visit nearby community farms to help enhance these methods seeking to produce alternative food sources as well as incomes
Alternative animal production: We have a deposit of ginea pig (cuyes). Volunteers will participate in planting the crops to feed these animals and feeding them.

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Research in the cloud forest and páramo

Biological inventories: As part of the treks on the trails of the Reserve, volunteers develop biological inventories (especially plant and birdlife). For this, they collect scientific information about the flora and fauna observed during the hikes.
Herbarium collection: Volunteers can also make plant collections to leave them in a herbarium we have at the station. The information will be used to make a booklet about the flora in Guandera.
Research assistants: If we have any research project going on at the reserve, volunteers may participate as research assistants.
Meteorological station: Volunteers have to collect data from temperature, precipitation, wind and radiation.
Personal investigation: If volunteers want to propose their own personal investigation, they can feel free to do it. The coordinator at the station will arrange the agenda to give the volunteers some time to develop their personal project.

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Reserve maintenance

We all work together to maintain and develop the Station. The activities involved here are trail design in the forest and making signs for the areas in the station.

Sometimes we have visitors on the station, so once volunteers know the station very well, they help out in the guidance.
Finally, once a month we have a “minga” in which everybody helps out organizing the station and removing things we do not use that could be useful to other people in the community.

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Community development

Environmental education: As part of our community development objective, we offer environmental education to people in the community of Mariscal Sucre. Volunteers develop and instruct classes on conservation, biology, and human issues for local school children and adults. The program is taught in local schools.
English teaching: Volunteers interested in teaching English to children around the community have the opportunity to do it once a week. If you want to bring your own materials to give it to the children, we would very much appreciate it.

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Cultural exchange

Spanish classes: To share with our volunteers our culture, the staff of the station offers two hours of Spanish classes every afternoon, once the work from the station has been done.
Dancing lessons: We also offer dance lessons in a variety of styles, including salsa, merengue and other Latin American dances. The classes are a lot of fun and a good workout. Theses dancing lessons are free of charge.
Talks next to the chimney: At night we light the chimney and we have long talks about our country, our history, our culture, our people, our nature… This is a time to share with our volunteers mutual experiences.

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Sustainable tourism in the Carchi

Every week we have treks on the trails of the Reserve in which the staff will present Biodiversity themes. On clear days it is possible to observe the snow-capped volcanos such as the Chiles, Imbabura and Cotacachi. To the south of the reserve you can also find the “Devil ́s Nose”, and the Labrateña and Mirador waterfalls…

Expectations

These have been written in order to better prepare you as a volunteer, not only for the work that you will be involved in but also for the environment you will be living in:

We understand that each individual situation will vary somewhat, so we cannot guarantee that everything will be the same as described for every individual, although this is a good general outline of what you should expect when volunteering in Ecuador.

It is important to emphasise that you are dealing with another culture when you are volunteering internationally. The way you would approach a particular situation in your own country is not necessarily the appropriate way to handle it in Ecuador.

Your time and commitment to the programme is valued, but please remember that you are a guest of the country and will no doubt be viewed as a representative of your homeland.
If you have any queries you would like to discuss about the information provided here, please direct them to your volunteer coordinator.

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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