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We are a retired but still very active couple, Australian and Swiss. After many years of work in international institutions dedicated to environmental protection, we decided to invest our efforts, time and knowledge to active hands-on nature restoration and protection.
Our project is a private nature protected area and is focusing on several aspects of ecosystem restoration, the main being large-scale and nature-friendly reforestation with native trees, complemented by wetland and other ecosystems restoration, erosion control, de-farming activities, land conservation, protection from uncontrollably developing local tourism and long-term legal protection. Our project is an absolutely non-profit private initiative, it has now been in operation for about 14 years. The reason for such a project in that region is the fact that the ecosystems (mainly ancient forest) of the whole region of Aysen were severely and irreversibly destroyed by deliberate fires and subsequent cattle raising in the mid-XX century.
It is located in Leones valley, in the heart of Chilean Patagonia, 260 km South of Coyhaique (the capital of the region and the airport), between the villages Puerto Rio Tranquilo and Puerto Guadal. The area is isolated and remote, far from any public transport, it is neighbouring the Laguna San Rafael National park. You will feel like at the end of the world, and it is the case indeed.
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Help with Eco project
Depending on your interests, you will learn how to set up life in a remote place off-grid (energy supply, communication, sanitation etc.), different aspects of nature-oriented reforestation and problems related to it on regional and local levels, the reality of the degraded state of the ecosystems of the region, some scientific and other aspects of the project and our experience with it.
As the damaged nature of the area does not need publicity encouraging additional stress, we will ask you not to instagram, or otherwise expose to mass social networks, the project, for the sake of nature protection and the volunteering programme. We would appreciate it if you came for the experience, not publicity.
Depending on your skills and needs of the moment we would appreciate it if you could help us with:
- house-sitting when we are away from the property;
- setting up the seed facility (nursery) to grow native trees seedlings;
- everyday care of the native plant nursery and the little organic garden;
- collecting native seeds for reforestation;
- erosion control on slopes using the method of “rough and loose reclamation”;
- maintenance of fences for protection from neighbours' cattle;
- maintenance and reparations of the houses;
- maintenance work and professional advice (if any) on independent sustainable energy supply systems, set up for the houses;
- clearing and marking trails to the reforestation sites, making paths in thick bush;
- setting up cameras for wildlife observation;
- cutting grass and clearing around houses for fire protection;
- transforming old orchards into orchards for wildlife;
- cutting firewood;
- walking 2 barefoot retired horses and cutting hay for them;
- moving out neighbours' cows if they get into the project;
- making sure that tourists, passing to the national park, observe the indicated route and the signs;
- controlling invasive species, such as "rosa mosqueta" bush;
- surveying the reforested areas using a variety of methods;
- finding legal solutions for long term protection of such restoration projects;
- looking for ways of reducing anthropogenic stress of the ecosystem;
and other various tasks, proper to a de-farming lifestyle.
Most probably, you will work by small individual projects. For the time being you will not participate in the tree planting as, in order to be effective, it is done by professionals and is season-depending, however it might be case soon.
The jobs are mainly physical but rewarding, and depend on the season and weather. Life and work are not separated here, like on farms in the old days. In order to keep a humane dimension and a family style of the volunteering experience, we can host 2 volunteers (grand maximum 3), prepared for lonely life in the wilderness. The project operates in English, so you would need to speak English, we also welcome French-speakers so we can practice French. Some maturity is required for such an experience, we would appreciate it if you have a driver's licence and are not smokers, as smoking is not allowed in the project.
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, the power is generated locally by small sustainable sources (you will have an introduction on those).
You will be able to travel in the region around the lake General Carrera and in the Laguna San Rafael and other national parks of the region, including the glaciers, the closest being the glacier Leones, the glacier Exploradores is also within reach. You can also hike in the property and might have privileged encounters with wildlife (native foxes, lots of birds). The region is interesting in terms of geology and geomorphology.
Publications about the area are available.
You shall be ready for difficult times with mosquitoes and horseflies. Lots of pollen in summer, allergies can occur.
As we are not a business, we are not covered by the same insurances as a business activity, so we should take it into account.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week
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