IPBio - Biodiversity Research Institute

IPBio - Biodiversity Research Institute


The Biodiversity Research Institute (IPBio) is a place where research meets conservation. IPBio is a non-governmental, non-profit organization that develops and supports projects in environmental education and scientific research on biodiversity, ecology as well as on the behavior of species of fauna and flora of Brazilian ecosystems. In addition, IPBio’s mission is to encourage conservation, management and sustainable use of natural resources; and promote the development of eco-tourism and cultural projects.

We are located in the Atlantic Forest. With only 7% of its original extent remaining, placing it on the top 5 most endangered forests list, we are rapidly losing one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspots. Conservation is critical.

The work done in the Betary Reserve has received international recognition. In 2009, the reserve received accreditation as an advanced outpost of The Atlantic Forest Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.


Estrada Iporanga-Apiai, km 6


Yes, I recommend this program

I am Zane from Latvia. I was in Reserva Betary in Brazil for 2 months as eco volunteer where I could help for different nature observation projects.
It was amazing!!! Great job, awesome people, beautiful nature, cute animals, glowing mushrooms, fresh air and just wonderful living, traveling and working experience.
I adore that besides all other amazing activities (bird, mushroom, fish, habitant, etc. inventories) I also had a chance to see and to take some photos of butterflies and moths as well as other animals.
And I absolutely love all great caves and stunning waterfalls nearby and delightful mountains and charming trails.
It could be highly recommended for those who love nature and adventure!
Even just being there and feeling nature all around was magic!!!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Most surprising thing I saw was a green snake jumping from a tree on deck in front of us. And most surprising thing I did was working in quite fast river and catching fish during fish inventory.
Yes, I recommend this program

I’m Matt from Wales and I spent eight weeks at IPBio working in the frog lab and setting up a camera trap project. My time at IPBio has been filled with fun and learning at every stage. From hiking through the forest to check for amphibians in the pitfall traps, to studying disease in tadpoles in the lab. The staff at the reserve are extremely friendly and always happy to assist in any way they can; they know a huge amount about the native fauna and flora so ask many questions! The facilities at the reserve are very good, and the volunteer house is clean and comfortable. The number of volunteers present at any time is perfect. There are many opportunities for weekend activities whilst at IPBio; including swimming beneath waterfalls, exploring huge caves, and if you’re here in early March – Carnival! I recommend you bring plenty of mosquito repellent, and arrive with a desire to immerse yourself in the forest and have an awesome time!

What was the most nerve-racking moment?
Absailing down a waterfall in the rainforest with the other volunteers!!
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Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering at the Betary Reserve was one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I’m so happy with myself that I chose to do this program. I had recently finished my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science but am starting my masters in conservation this year and this month being an eco-volunteer was the perfect start to my new life chapter. I feel like I really have learnt a lot about ecology while being here and have gained some applicable skills. The volunteer house has everything you would need (including WIFI) and is quite nice considering its also not too expensive to stay here. The staff are very vegan/vegetarian conscious which made me so happy and I had so much amazing traditional vegan food here! I’m 22 and most of the group was very similar to my age and it was such a heart-warming experience to spend a month living with like-minded wildlife/nature lovers. Overall, I would highly recommend the experience if you love being in nature; even if you have no background in biology. I would suggest staying for a long period of time and also learning a bit of Portuguese before you come so you can communicate better with some of the biologists here and get the most out of your time 😊

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
- stay for longer than you think you should
-learn Portuguese
-bring your camera if you have one
-if you've never solo traveled before - don't stress! You have so much support and you truly feel at home and safe in the area and volunteer house.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I visited Betary reserve for four and a half weeks in January and February. It was honestly the most amazing experience and I only wish I could of stayed longer. I am an ecologist, and have therefore used some of the techniques that were used through my education and work, however I still felt very challenged and learned a lot. I never thought I’d be able to do something like this because I would get too anxious or homesick but the staff are so supportive, and you are kept so busy and physically active that there is really no worries of this and the time literally flew by. I loved the house, it always had a great social atmosphere and whilst the WIFI was slow, having aircon and WIFI in the jungle felt very deluxe. If you love being in nature, and don’t mind getting muddy, I would definitely do this volunteer programme!!

What was your funniest moment?
On our long hikes on hills in the mud, and whilst in rivers, trying to stay on two feet, and watching other equally clumsy people slip over aswel. But we were all embrasing it!
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Yes, I recommend this program

I volunteered at Betary Reserve for three weeks to make an Institutional video about the release center.

I’m doctor based in Buenos Aires and I wanted to really do something about conservation and this was just what I was expecting.

It was an incredible experience working with my husband, all the staff and volunteers, that were so helpful to us during our time there.

The biologists there are amazing persons and really help us in the video with the incredible footage of birds and others animals that can be found in the reserve and the entire park.

The reserve is a beautiful place, with it’s aquarium, green house and the incredible deck in the river, you can live the rainforest like nowhere else.

Thanks to this program I want to do more nature related volunteer work around the globe.


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Alumni Interviews

Alumni interviews are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Carys Richards

Carys is a Geography and Sustainable Development undergraduate student studying at the University of St Andrews. She is eager to explore the world whilst trying to make a positive impact on the environment.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program for several key reasons. The projects seemed to be very varied and would allow me to experience collecting field data ranging from Bird Inventory to Mushroom Research. The location looked amazing as I would be living and working in the Mata Atlântica in Brazil which has been heavily deforested and is still under threat. There are hundreds of species of animals, plants, and mushrooms that are endemic to the forest only being found in this specific region. I also wanted to gain more experience working with international scientists on globally important research.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

IPBio helped me with organizing my travel from my home country to the reserve as it is not the most straightforward of places to get to given its more remote location. They also advised me on where to stay in São Paulo and what to bring with me.

The volunteer coordinators at the reserve were incredibly supportive both before arrival and whilst we were staying. They also helped us organize our weekend trips and involved us in local community activities. Aside from this, my university helped me plan my trip financially. Everything else such as getting the right vaccinations, I organized alone which was pretty simple.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I would say to make the most of your time away! Plan and budget for your evenings and weekend trips – Brazil is a huge country with so much to offer so you should explore as much as possible. I wish I had visited so many more places in Brazil and added a couple of weeks to my trip at the end (but that just means I will organize a future trip back there!). You need to be aware that it takes a lot of time to travel between destinations in the country given such large distances.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average day is usually split between a morning and afternoon activity. We have a meeting every morning at 9 AM to go through the plan for the day and discuss any questions/issues people have. Then we would all participate in a project such as tree inventory, bird inventory, mushroom inventory, habitat monitoring, camera trap footage reviewing (OBBIO), or another assigned project.

Some people had roles that were more lab focused such as working with frogs or working with mushrooms. We would have usually around an hour for lunch which was pretty flexible, and then typically a different afternoon activity. The evenings and weekends are free so we would have dinners planned, movie nights, trips to town, cave visits, boia cross, and lots of other activities!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was that I would struggle with the language and that it would negatively affect my experience. I found that people were very willing to try to talk to me and encouraged me even though I struggled speaking Portuguese. People would go out of their way to communicate with me, and I made some great friends with the other volunteers (from a range of countries), the staff and the local people, which helped me to feel like an extended part of the community.

Should you go to the reserve?

YES! 100%. You shouldn't be scared of travelling alone to a country where you might not speak the language. I didn't have any experience that made me uncomfortable or regret my decision to come to Brazil. My stay in São Paulo was great, the intra-country travel was a lot easier than I expected, the project work was varied and interesting, and the people were so welcoming! I would highly recommend this project to anyone! I had an amazing time and enjoyed every minute of my experience at IPBio.

Staff Interviews

Staff interviews are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Ana Glaucia Martins

Job Title
Manager of IPBio
Ana Glaucia gained a undergraduate degree in Biology in 2006 and post-graduate specialization in Conservation and Management of Fauna in 2011. She began to work at IPBio in 2007 as a research assistant and as of 2014 she became the manager.
Ana from IPBio

What is your favorite travel memory?

I am privileged to have been born in Iporanga, where IPBio is located, as it is situated in an area with such wonderful places to visit. Iporanga is known as the Cave Capital of Brazil and is located in the most preserved area of Atlantic Forest. There are various hikes to do, waterfalls to see and wildlife to watch but my favorite travel memory is from a cave called “Casa da Pedra”. This is located 30 minutes from Iporangas town center and is the largest cave opening in the world stretching approximately 215 meters. I remember visiting it when I was just child and being so impressed by its size. I have visited the cave many times since then but it always seems to amaze me.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I believe I have grown a lot since joining IPBio in 2007. I initially worked as a research assistant, then became the head biologist and now manage the Institute. Since then I have not only gained experience in my own field but developed other skills in management, finance, project development and various other areas. IPBio gave me the space and opportunity to discover new talents and find new interests in areas outside of biology which I am grateful for.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

Personally I would choose the “Research Assistant” role. I believe that this role is the most interesting as it is designed so that people with or without scientific degrees can participate in research. Many people, not only biologists, are interested in biology and it is important for the lay public to understand how conservation works on the ground. Additionally, this program is varied as you assist all ongoing research so the volunteer becomes familiar with wide range of activities such as: setting up camera traps to photograph mammals; visiting pitfalls to monitor frogs; working in the lab to study mushrooms; conducting inventories of tree species on the reserve etc.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

I believe what makes IPBio unique is the fact that the founder decided to only hire local biologists. This was a conscious decision in order to develop the talents and harness the interest and knowledge of people who live on the front lines of the forest. This gave opportunities to local biologists who would have to relocate to urban areas to follow their passion of working for a reputable research center. Moreover, as the biologists are locals it has connected the research centers aims to the community and rose awareness about environmental concerns and the importance of conservation.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

IPBio's success can be attributed to its diversification. IPBio has managed to combine research, tourism and education in a self-reinforcing manner. Although research is our focus, realizing that people are fascinated by nature, IPBio developed educational tours through public visitation to our reserve as well as receiving school trips. IPBio understood that people are not only interested by nature but also by the scientific method which is key developing future generations who understand and care about the environment.

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