Volunteering projects in Ecuador


The Global Volunteer Network currently offers volunteer opportunities through our partner organization in Ecuador. Volunteers have the opportunity to participate in the programs of five different biological reserves, which contribute to to biodiversity conservation, community development and sustainable use of natural resources.

Ecuador is a country of many geographical contrasts, extending from the Amazon rainforest of the Orient and the high altitude forests of the Inter-Andean region, to the forests and beaches of the northern lowlands and the Galapagos Islands. Biological reserves are located in each of these different regions, many in extremely threatened areas, where the land in the reserve is among the last remnant of an area high in biodiversity.

The principal aims of the reserves are the conservation of eco-systems and cultural diversity, environmental education, sustainable development projects, and research that promotes the improvement of the quality of life of people living in the zones of influence of its activities. The volunteer program is intended to provide practical experience for people interested in contributing to our partner\’s conservation activities and projects. Volunteers work on a variety of projects alongside the resident researchers, environmental education instructors, and administrative staff of each reserve.

All volunteers participate in maintenance and development of the infrastructure of these stations, as well as the activities listed below. The majority of a volunteers\’ time is spent doing very hands-on, manual work. Volunteers are not tourists and are expected to work full days like all other employees of the station. Volunteers should be able to undertake strenuous and sometimes tedious labor in a hot tropical climate under primitive living conditions.

The following activities are available in the Ecuador reserves, although what is available varies between reserves with some activities dependent on season and a volunteers length of stay/experience.

  • Plant Conservation: collecting seeds, reforestation, medicinal plant garden development, nursery work, and clearing areas of invasive species.
  • Sustainable Income Generation: monitoring sustainable agriculture and aquaculture projects, crafts, and agro-forestry.
  • Supporting Local Research: assisting in data collection for local research
  • Wildlife: monitoring projects with birds and bears.

Online Spanish Lessons

Global Volunteer Network has established a partnership with the Spanish school Instituto Exclusivo, which offers GVN volunteers a 5% discount off their online Spanish lessons. This is not like other courses which give you pages of web material or recordings of various phrases to repeat. You will speak to, and see your instructor as he/she is giving you a private lesson, tailored to your level of Spanish. Click here

Program Locations

There are currently five reserves available. For an overview of what each reserve offers, read our quick access guide (PDF).

The Programs


\"\"The Amazon Biological Reserve in located in the province of Napo in Ecuador. Of the six stations, Amazon is the oldest, and was created in 1986 out of the need to have a conservation, investigation, and education centre to host scientists and students interested in the tropical rainforests. The present size of this reserve is 2 000 hectares, created by donations from various individuals and organizations concerned with the rapid loss of the tropical rainforests in the Amazon and the world. This reserve is located in an Alpha Biodiversity Hot Spot, one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world. To find out more click here


\"\"The Bilsa reserve conserves a critical remnant of Ecuador\’s coastal pre-montane wet forest, of which less than 1% remains. Located in the Mache Mountains in the north western coastal province of Esmeraldas, this remnant of forest has a unique composition of flora and fauna, internationally renowned for both its diversity and rarity. The region\’s rugged topography (300 to 800 meters) and the coastal climate create a dense fog, which shrouds all of Bilsa\’s steeper ridges. Rare animals found at the reserve include the Jaguar, several small cat species, the Long Wattled Umbrella Bird, the Giant Anteater and abundant populations of the threatened Mantled Howler Monkey. To find out more click here


\"\"The Congal Biological Research Station was founded in 2000 in order to protect Ecuador\’s endangered coastal ecosystems. The Station features beach, estuarine, mangrove, wetlands, and wet tropical forest habitats, which account for the regions high biodiversity and local endemism. The purpose of the Station is to develop projects in the fields of conservation, organic and environmentally friendly aquaculture, farming and forestry. To find out more click here

La Hesperia

\"\"The 814 hectare Hesperia Biological Station is situated in the western lower reaches of the Andes, 1100 to 2040 metres above sea level. This diverse reserve spans over evergreen, low montane and tropical cloud forest. More than three hundred bird species have been identified at La Hesperia; 19 are endemic to the region, and 7 are vulnerable or in danger of extinction. Although the area is extremely important for the conservation of biodiversity, deforestation remains a threat. To find out more click here

San Cristobal

\"\"The San Cristobal Biological Station is located on the Galápagos Islands, off the west coast of Ecuador. The recently established reserve was established on a 200 hectare site in the highlands of San Cristobal Island. The objectives of the project are to reconstruct the original forests on the island, and to provide viable agricultural products for the local population to grow. Volunteers will work on habitat restoration and agricultural sustainability while at the reserve. In addition foundation staff will lead volunteers on explorations of lagoons, native forests, beaches, and the local villages, to explain the ecological and human dynamic of Galapagos. To find out more click here


Program Requirements

  • Be 18 years or over
  • Have no major health problems
  • Be moderately fit
  • A basic level of Spanish is required for all reserves. If you do not know any Spanish you can choose to attend a 2 week Spanish course in Quito prior to volunteering, arranged through our partner organisation.

*Although there are no restrictions on the nationality of volunteers that wish to participate in this program, you need to be able to obtain your entry visa independent of the volunteer organisation

If you are interested in joining this project and would like further information, please click here

To view other Global Volunteer Network projects, please visit their website http://www.globalvolunteernetwork.org/