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A private protected area in Leones valley, in the heart of Chilean Patagonia, 260 km South of Coyhaique. The area is isolated and remote, far from any public transport, neighbouring the Laguna San Rafael National park. You will feel like at the end of the world, and it is the case indeed. The ecosystem is quite destroyed, like in the whole region of Aysén, that's the reason for our project.
We are a retired but still active couple, Australian and Swiss, managing a private nature protection and ecosystem restoration project (mainly reforestation with native trees, some wetland and other restoration, and active ecosystem protection), complemented by erosion control, de-farming activities and land conservation. Our project is an absolutely non-profit private initiative.
The last 20 years before retiring we worked in international institutions dedicated to environment protection.
We are located at 10 km into a valley between the villages of Puerto Rio Tranquilo and Guadal, the nearest airport is Balmaceda, nearest village, and therefore social contact, is at 1h by car.
Cooking / shopping
Help with Eco project
We will share with you the experience with the local ecosystem, with the possibilities and problems of ecosystem restoration and native reforestation in the area, with solutions we found for living in such a remote place : energy supply, communication, sanitation etc. The experience will be mainly the experience of living in nature and learning the natural history of the area, rather than cultural. You will learn how to set up this type of projects in the middle of nowhere, with virtually no local help available and find responses to challenges you might face. As we, the managers of the project, previously worked in the environment sphere (United Nations Environment Programme), you will benefit from they theoretical knowledge as well.
One of the main aspects of the project, critical for its success, being the protection of the privacy of nature, we strongly ask the volunteers not to publish anything about the project in any social and/or mass media, on video or photo sharing platforms. Damaged nature of the area does not need publicity encouraging additional stress. The region is one of the most ecologically degraded and deforested of the country and the need for ecological restoration, soil recuperation and nature regeneration is enormous.
Another cultural aspect: we will ask you not to instagram the project, for the sake of nature protection, and for preventing compromising the project and the volunteering programme.
We mainly need help with de-farming and nature protection activities, such as taking out old fences for wildlife free ranging; maintenance work on fences for protection from cattle; maintenance of buildings, of the independent self-sustainable energy supply and other systems; clearing and marking trails to the reforestation sites; cutting grass and clearing around houses for fire protection; picking fruit in the old orchards; cutting firewood; walking 2 barefoot retired horses; cutting hay for them; preventing tourists from wandering into the protected area and destroying tumuluses they make; controlling invasive species such as "Rosa mosqueta" (rosa rubiginosa); making paths in thick bush; other activities aimed at protecting nature and planted trees (search for trees to collect seeds for tree planting, for example), and eliminating signs of previous anthropogenic stress - the tasks are mainly physical but rewarding, and depends on the season and weather.
Despite the specific project's goal of restoring degraded land by reforestation, you will, probably, not participate in the tree planting as it is normally done by professionals, but we need help in such important activities as collecting seeds of native trees for reforestation, setting of the new facilities for native seed-based restoration: setting up seed beds for nursery purposes, in order to grow seedlings of native trees for reforestation.
This year we are also focusing on erosion control of slopes using the "rough and loose" restoration method, establishing and developing a small garden, as well as maintaining old orchards so they provide fruit for local wildlife.
There might be some housesitting, when we need to be absent from the property.
Life and work is not separated here, like on farms in the old days. For the peace of nature and the quality of the volunteering experience, we can host 2 volunteers, prepared for lonely life in the wilderness. The project operates in English, but we also welcome French-speakers, so we can practice French.
English - main; + French, Spanish, Russian.
Accommodation is simple but comfortable: an independent small house with electricity, running water and cooking facilities. We will provide groceries, of course, but you will have to cook for yourself. There is no TV, and internet connexion is reasonable but not ideal. We are not connected to the grid, power is generated locally by small sustainable sources (you will have an introduction on those).
In your time off you may travel in the region around the lake General Carrera and in the Laguna San Rafael national park, including the glaciers (we will take you to the main road, Carretera Austral, or as agreed), transport is very scarce in this region. You will also be able to hike in the property and might have privileged encounters with wildlife.
You shall be ready for difficult times with mosquitoes and horseflies.
Please take info consideration the fact that closest pharmacies are 3 h away by car.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week