Un poco del Chocó is a private nature reserve and biological station in the montane rainforest of Northwest Ecuador.
Un poco del Chocó is a private conservation project in the Northwest of Ecuador which was founded in 2009 by the German Biologist Nicole Büttner (MSc) and her Ecuadorian husband Wilo Vaca.
While the nature reserve contributes to the conservation of the endangered Chocó-habitat, the biological station promotes education and research through internships and courses. The 15 hectares of montane rainforest are home to over 270 different bird species as well as capuchin monkeys, sloths, agoutis and even ocelots and pumas.
Besides education and research, one major aim of Un poco del Chocó is the conservation of the remaining rainforest around the reserve. Habitat fragmentation is a major problem in the Chocó region. While illegal logging and a progressing agricultural frontier are the main reasons for the habitat loss, there are also several minor reasons for deforestation. E.g., in order to maintain fences for their cattle, local people generally cut trees to replace the old rotten posts. Therefore we work in environmental education, participate in local conservation workshops and support sustainable land-use. Furthermore we work together with other local conservation initiatives and Ecuadorian NGOs.
A good part of our conservation work is voluntary commitment.
In the reserve and at the field station there is always plenty to do. We are very happy to receive volunteers who want to support our work. Volunteers will help us with the following tasks:
Our daily work
There are a couple of tasks that need to be done every day and volunteers can give us a hand with cooking, watering plants, feeding the chickens and keeping the station house clean.
Trail building and maintenance
In the past few years we have established several nature trails in the reserve. These trails are necessary to access the different parts of the reserve in order to realize field studies or simply to enjoy the forest and observe the diverse animal and plant life.The trail system already covers a length of about 5 kms!
So you can imagine that there is always some maintenance work to do in order to keep the trails clean from vegetation or fallen branches. The steps and signs also need to be replaced every once in a while.
With our organic garden we would like to self-supply the field station with different vegetables. Besides various fruit trees, we have also planted yucca (manioc), sugar cane, bananas and plantains. There is a small vegetable garden where we grow a lot of different vegetables, e.g. tomatoes, beans, peppers, pumpkins. You can help to water the organic garden and produce compost, to cultivate and plant saplings, to weed and care for the garden and finally to harvest.
Professional carpenters or volunteers with manual skills are always welcome at the station. They can help Wilo with the maintenance and wood work around the station.
Taking care of fruit feeders for wild animals
We have established several fruit feeding stations for certain bird and mammal species in different parts of the reserve. With those stations we try to facilitate the observation of some (rare) species which would normally be very difficult to observe. At the same time these feeding stations are also used to monitor the bird and mammal diversity in the reserve. The banana feeders need to be cleaned and refilled twice a week.
We lodge volunteers in a cozy wooden house in the middle of the rainforest. Rooms are shared doubles in bunk beds, toilets are outside and showers are hot.
Our food is mostly vegetarian. We cook typical Ecuadorian food (rice, plantains, legumes, yucca etc,) as well as pasta, potatoes and lots of vegetables.
Electricity is supplied by solar panels and can be restricted. Internet access is available.
We charge $95 per week for lodging at the station house and three meals a day.