Focus: Conservation, Community, Education and Sustainability.
In 1976, following a land reform act, a group of local landless campesino (countryside) families bought the land which is now Santa Lucía Reserve. They formed an agricultural cooperative and began clearing areas of the forest to farm. Living and working in the forest was hard as the land is steep and far from markets, but for the first time these families had access to land and were able to make a living.
However land in the cloud forest quickly degrades once it has been cleared and in time, the environmental problems of farming in the forest became apparent. In addition, in 1988, the area was declared part of the Bosque Protector (Protected Forest) making hunting and clear-felling illegal, thus threatening the families' livelihoods.
Members of the cooperative began to look for alternative ways of making a living from their land and in the late 1990s, identified ecotourism which would allow them to protect rather than clear the forest. In 1999 they began to build the eco-lodge with fallen wood from the forest; trails in the reserve were made and with much appreciated help from volunteers and other organisations such as Maquipucuna, Rainforest Concern UK, and Quest Overseas, the ecotourism project was born.
Costs & Benefits
Santa Lucía has been welcoming volunteers, both groups and individuals, since 2000 and our volunteer programme continues to play a crucial role in enabling the development of our sustainable ecotourism operation and of our conservation and community projects. The hard work, support and enthusiasm of so many volunteers have helped to reinforce for us the value of our cloud forest reserve and the importance of its continued protection.
Our volunteering programme offers you the opportunity to:
Make a real contribution to conservation and sustainable development
Experience the tranquillity, beauty and biodiversity of the cloud forest
Learn about rural Ecuadorian life and the opportunities and challenges of sustainable development
Build cross-cultural relationships with community members
Learn or improve your Spanish
Coordination of volunteers (only long-term) - help coordinating the volunteering program and the daily activities of volunteers
Work with children
Help in the local nursery feeding and playing with children (from six months to four years)
Work in local school
Maintenance of the organic garden
Organize and hold classes in environmental education
Working in the library
Helping with physical education
Organic gardening (only long-term) - working either the organic garden in La Delicia or in Santa Lucía (lodge)
Work in Santa Lucía (lodge) will be according to necessity:
Trail maintenance - essential to ensure that the trails don't cause erosion and that they are safe to hike
Orchid Garden - we need help maintaining and enlarging our orchidarium
Daily chores - during times without large volunteer projects we also ask for helping hands with the daily chores like cleaning in and around the lodge or kitchen work.
US$105 per week incl. all food and accommodation, accommodation is in shared rooms in Eco lodge in forest, all bedding supplied. There is the option to stay with local host family weekends.
No particular skills needed but most of the work requires reasonable level of health/fitness. Volunteers aged 16 years old and over able to speak English; some Spanish useful but not essential.
Cooperativa Santa Lucia,
Apartado Postal 17-07-9414,
Tel: 00 (593) (2) 215 7242
Average cost per day:$15
Focus:Conservation, Community, Education and Sustainability
Skills needed: Volunteers must be at least 16 years old, able to speak English; some Spanish useful but not essential.