Project Assistants - Rainforest Conservation Volunteer
Crees Foundation - Peru, IN

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crees volunteer programme


Are you interested in conservation research? Do you want to get involved with local community projects? Are you passionate about sustainability and helping to protect the rainforest?

With numerous environmental threats it is vital that we fully understand the complex relationships between human populations, wildlife and the ecosystems in which they live. Get unique access to work alongside development and conservation experts in their daily activities, as they answers questions about climate change, human impact and the innate value of the rainforest.

Learning how human activities are impacting the Amazon provides a great opportunity to reflect on our needs and behaviors and how we impact the planet. Volunteers are challenged to get involved physically, mentally and emotionally, as they connect with the people and realities that they will play a part in changing.

The Journey

Fly in to the ancient Inca capital, Cusco, and spend a day exploring the city with your guide and team members before starting your journey to the Amazon. Leave the bustling cities behind embark upon a journey over the Andes mountains and through the cloud forest, emerging into the lowland rainforest valleys and arriving at our research station and eco-lodge, the Manu Learning Centre (MLC).

Volunteer Training

At the Manu Learning Centre, our team of qualified staff train volunteers to become important and active members of our ongoing projects. A full week of training combines theory and hands on practicals in tropical ecology, climate change, sustainable agriculture, forest composition, and species recognition.

Volunteer Projects

Since establishing the Manu Learning Centre in 2004, crees has worked with over 200 volunteers from around the globe, creating a positive and lasting impact on Manu’s forests, its local communities, and volunteers themselves. Volunteers work in two project areas:

1. Conservation Research

Scientists estimate that only 10% of the species in the rainforest are known. In order to preserve the Amazon it is vital that we first understand it, and you will actively enable this process by monitoring the flora and fauna of the area. By studying flagship species such as the endangered Blue Headed Macaw, you will explore how humans impact biodiversity and contribute to ensuring these species remain protected.

Your key roles will be:
  • Collect and monitor species and habitats found at the Manu Learning Centre
  • Study endangered species such as the Blue Headed Macaw and the Jaguar
  • Explore how humans impact on biodiversity and crucial conservation issues
  • Track mammals via camera traps and forest transects ( we recorded 7 individual Jaguars last year alone !)
  • Monitor and register trail biodiversity (jaguars, tapirs, deer, birds and monkeys)
  • Process and upload data that is used by international conservation projects to determine wider conservation strategies
  • Contribute to data that helps ensure these species remain protected and inform government decisions
You will learn a number of biological survey techniques used to measure biodiversity. You will also develop analytical skills and gain practical field experience by assisting researchers on their projects. The scientific work undertaken by crees is done in collaboration with University of Oxford, University of Glasgow, University of Aberdeen, and the University Oregon .

2. Sustainable Community Initiatives

One of the keys to avoid the self-perpetuating cycle of poverty and poor resource management is to actively engage with local people and communities in finding real solutions. You will support essential projects designed to increase the income and nutritional levels of local people through sustainable land management. Most people living in Manu survive on less than $2 USD a day through subsistence agriculture and timber extraction. These activities are disastrous for the survival of the rainforests and biodiversity. However, using techniques to improve efficiencies, we help local people reduce deforestation and protect virgin areas.

The volunteers’ mission here is to:
  • Support essential projects designed to increase the income and nutritional levels of local people through sustainable land management
  • Work with nearby villages on a bio-garden building initiative to improve child nutrition and provide additional income to local families
  • Help local farmers plan and construct agro-forestry plots as a sustainable alternative to slash-and-burn farming and illegal logging industries
  • Build infrastructure for local family bio-gardens with community members
  • Plant seedlings and check on growth rates, soil acidity and help make compost
  • Collect data on mortality and disease rates, species and distribution information from reforested plots
  • Create and map reforested plots, planting seedlings and crops
  • Help calculate and determine Carbon values and sequestration rates per plot
Volunteers work directly with the project coordinator and assist each family with their project. This programme provides the most direct way of changing lives, and the local communities can see the difference in their lives in a matter of weeks.

What else?

By joining the crees volunteer team you will also meet new friends, practice your Spanish (or learn some Spanish!) and teach English to some of our Spanish-speaking staff. You will also have the opportunity to help out in the kitchen and learn some fantastic new cooking skills and Peruvian recipes with our Peruvian chef!

Volunteer Expedition *

Volunteers take a break and experience a 4 day field trip which may include trekking through the forest, visiting the indigenous community of Queros, exploring virgin forests and discovering hot springs in the Amazon. The expedition connects volunteers deeply with local communities, breathtaking biodiversity, and challenging physical activities.

(*) Available for programmes of 4 weeks or longer. Programmes of 4 to 10 weeks receive one expedition and 12 week programmes will have 2 expeditions.

Volunteer Facilities

Volunteers spend the majority of the placement at the Manu Learning Centre, a Rainforest Alliance verified accommodation and top level research centre located in the heart of the Manu Biosphere Reserve in the Peruvian Amazon. Due to its location and facilities the Manu Learning Centre makes for a great base for both hard work and relaxation, boasting a solar powered Internet connection, environmentally sound septic system, and gravity fed water pumps; all helping to minimise the centre’s impact on the environment and reduce its carbon footprint.

What’s Included in the Programme
  • Pre Departure Pack and support by our UK office
  • 24 hour in-country support, including airport collection and drop-off in Cusco, Peru
  • Welcome meeting and arrival orientation around Cusco
  • Lodging in Cusco, the Manu Cloud Forest & Manu Learning Centre
  • 3 delicious meals a day with water, juice, tea or coffee
  • All transport between Cusco and the rainforest, and to project work within the rainforest
  • Supervised training and project participation
  • All necessary project methodology training by experienced and qualified staff
  • First Aid and CPR training in remote rainforest environment. Please note: EFR certification is NOT included however you may pay extra onsite to gain certification (Interns receive automatic certification)
  • Tropical forest ecology and fauna identification skills
  • Training and participation in scientific monitoring techniques which may include camera trapping, visual encounter surveys, butterfly trapping, mammal and bird clay lick monitoring, mammal track identification, avian mist netting, amphibian and reptile pitfalling- depending on availability
  • Participation in sustainable agro-forestry and bio-gardens projects
  • Plus, a 4 day expedition which may include activities such as a trek to hot springs, river rafting and visit native communities to try your hand at skills like weaving, cooking and archery. Expedition locations and activities vary.
What’s NOT Included
  • Airfares (international or domestic)
  • Yellow Fever Vaccine (Required, please consult a travel clinic)
  • Comprehensive Insurance (Required)
  • Alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, snacks

What Makes Us Different

We are a small but dedicated team of professionals who are focused on one project, in one area. We firmly believe that everyone, provided the right tools, is capable of making a positive impact. Our programme gives you real skills and understanding of conservation and community issues whilst providing an unforgettable experience. However, most important is knowing that you leave behind a real positive impact on the lives of others.