Gap Year Program in Galapagos, Ecuador
About the Location
Although relatively small in size, Ecuador is a world-renowned biodiversity hotspot. From the Amazon to the Galapagos, the richness of Ecuador’s natural resources is unparalleled. In regards to society, Ecuador has enjoyed a period of relative stability since the turn of the century. One reason is the adoption of the United State dollar as the country’s currency in 2000. This has lessened the currency fears that hounded the Ecuadorian economy before.
However, Ecuador faces serious challenges. Its natural resources are coming under attack and, while there have been efforts to conserve the local biodiversity, many areas are nearing irreversible points of destruction.
In terms of socioeconomic development, Ecuador lags behind most of its neighbors. Poverty rates have fallen in recent years, but Ecuador continues to have one of the highest poverty rates in the region and large parts of the population, especially indigenous groups, are economically and socially disenfranchised. For example, while access to elementary and middle school education has expanded to nearly all Ecuadorians, the quality of education for the poorest remains far below the national average.
With Ecuador’s increasing reliance on the volatile energy sector, especially oil, there are serious concerns about Ecuador’s ability to continue lifting its population from poverty. Moreover, considering the links between conservation and poverty, a worsening of poverty in Ecuador has negative implications for the environment.
FOREST CONSERVATION & SUSTAINABLE FARMING
What do volunteers do?
Volunteers generally work four to six hours a day. Depending on local need they are involved in a range of conservation activities. These may include removing foreign plants, especially blackberry, or “mora”, by hand and with machetes; collecting seeds; helping in local greenhouses; and participating in community and/or government initiatives that reach out to local farmers, particularly coffee and organic vegetable growers. Volunteers may also partake in reserve tasks like basic construction and trail maintenance, as well as collecting fruits for the cook and helping in the kitchen. Volunteers also frequently go on guided “caminatas”, or walks, with local team members to learn about the area – educating volunteers so they can become advocates for Galapagos conservation is an important part of the project.
Requirements to participate:
-The health and physical capability to live and do manual work in a tropical environment with few amenities.
-The flexibility to participate in many different activities depending on the season and ever-changing needs of the reserve.
-Education and/or professional experience in an environment or agriculture-related field is not required.
$1440 for 4 weeks