IPBio - Biodiversity Research Institute

Why choose 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.



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Yes, I recommend this program

A great company and a brilliant experience

I spent 3 months volunteering with IPBio on the Amazon project and absolutely loved it. Pre departure they were brilliant at communicating information, answering any questions and generally making you feel comfortable with what to expect. Once on site the IPBio team were professional, supportive and a lot of fun. I found the work to be interesting and varied with plenty of free time to explore the local area and culture. The other volunteers tended to be like-minded, hardworking and fun loving. There were usually 8 volunteers sharing a comfortable house and there was always something happening from Capoeira lessons with the neighbor to Carimbo Dancing with the locals and not forgetting the forest night searches and riverside BBQ’s. I truly can’t recommend this company and the Amazon Biodiversity Research experience enough.

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Yes, I recommend this program


This was the best experience I could have asked for. The team are super responsive and organised before you arrive. The accommodation is great and you only pay a small price for a great place to stay. The amount of time per day that is normally from 8-1ish which works well in the heat and weekends off. Each day the team does different data collection/inventories (fish, trees, mushrooms, reforestation, and birds) as well as one night search per week. The people I met there were open, kind, hard working people with great personalities. The volunteer organiser is really kind and sometimes arranges BBQs or social activities. It's super easy to explore the surrounding area by yourself of booking tours into the forest. I had moments in this programme that will last me a lifetime. Like finding bioluminescence on a night search, snorkelling through the small crystal clear streams of the Amazon, dancing with the other volunteers at the local Carimbo. This is one of the most transparent, well organised and dedicated organisations I have come across.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Perfect to learn about the Amazon ecosystem

22 year old French student, I was looking for a field experience as part of my studies in tropical forest ecology, and I first chose to apply for the IPBio Amazonie program due to its reasonable cost and the diversity of activities proposed.

I stayed for almost 2 months and I can say that all my expectations were fully satisfied! The diversity of the inventories carried out will enable people with or without a scientific background to appreciate the beauty of the flora and fauna, and to learn about them.

I'm still enchanted by the beauty of the region, which is certainly one of the most beautiful places on earth and offers plenty to discover during the weekends, as well as by the local culture, which will give you a warm welcome.

It was also an opportunity to meet other volunteers from other countries and with different backgrounds: amazing encounters!

In definitive, it was the ideal volunteer program for learning more about the Amazon ecosystem, doing useful and rewarding work with passionate people.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Review IPBio

I'm a 19 years old girl from Sweden. After graduation I wanted to do a meaningful volunteer program and something that could be helpful for my future work area.
At IPbio we got pick up from the airport at all time. Staff was helpful and nice. The living accommodation was comfortable and the neighbours offered safe taxi transportations and other freetime activities. I liked that at IPbio we got to experience a lot of different things, the activities were for example fish inventory, bird inventory or planting trees on an island.

Social Impact (5)
Safety (4)
Support (5)
Free Time Activities (5)
Value (5)

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Yes, I recommend this program

Childhood dream come true

My one month volunteering in The Amazon Rainforest was absolutely incredible, I really can't recommend it enough. It had always been my dream to go to the Amazon and everyday I was so happy to be there! Imi and Marleen, our coordinators were so welcoming when I first arrived and the other volunteers ended up becoming fast friends that I felt so at home there.

The work can be challenging in the heat, you are sweating 24/7, but you know you are making a positive impact and it feels very rewarding. Every day is different ranging from measuring and planting trees to identifying fish, frogs, birds, and mushrooms.

The volunteer lodge is beautiful, (you feel like you are on holiday!!) the locals are so kind, the neighbours are the best and the food is delicious. I went on so many amazing excursions out on the river, danced a lot of Carimbo and learned a traditional martial art called Capoeira. I'm now solo travelling around South America and EVERY time someone asks me what the highlight of my trip has been so far, I always say volunteering in Alter do Chao. I will definitely be coming back.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The most unique thing I saw was Caire. This is an Amazonian festival that takes place in September and I was so so lucky to be there when I was. It was a fun 5 days of dancing, singing, and immersing myself in the local culture.
  • The people - volunteers and locals
  • The location - beautiful town, beaches and excursions
  • Being surrounded by nature everyday
  • Not staying long enough and saying goodbye to fellow volunteers
  • Understanding the locals - learning Portuguese is paramount
  • The tarantulas... eek


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Alumni Interviews

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


Why did you choose this program?

I chose IPBio Reserva Betary because I was fancy seeing glowing (bioluminescent) mushrooms. One of the projects at the research station is a mushroom project on which some scientist discovered loads of mushrooms during the last years, so I found this quite exiting.

Not having any mushroom based research background I was happy enough to be the photographer and videographer on site for 3 months, so I created 12 video trailers from the 4 main projects, the facilities and short wildlife highlights. Besides that I share more than 500 of stunning images with IPBio which will be used in magazines and on social media.

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

IPBio assisted with the whole package. Transport from the airport to the reserve is not part of the program, but you get some recommendation for hostels and the right bus connection to choose and therefore getting there is pretty easy. In general there was a permanent contact before the trip, reviews during my time in Brazil and we are still in contact after finishing my 3 month project.

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

Obviously check the weather forecast for the specific time of the year. I can get freezing cold in Brazil's south during the winter on the southern hemisphere. No, it seriously was pretty cold and even colder after I left in June. Otherwise just like all other volunteering projects. Be open minded, bring a lot of flexibility, ask a lot, learn something new every day.

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

A day in the jungle starts pretty awesome. You'll get a wake up call from monkeys or birds. Sometimes both. Otherwise every week follows a schedule but this is only a rough overview, more like guidelines. Because there are so many different projects running at IPBio the week is filled with totally different things and tasks. As a photography volunteer I joined most of the projects throughout the week, and being part of this was so much fun, that I decided to take the roll of the other ECO volunteers during the daytime and did my photography role during the mornings and evenings, anyways the better time to take high quality images. At the end of the day it gets awesome again. You got the choice of hanging around the ponds and listen to the mighty concert of the frogs and/or stay even longer and gaze at million of stars and depending on the right time of the year the galactic center of the milkyway.

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

Well, I do travel extensively and I volunteered on other projects in SouthAfrica and Guyana before. If you ever fear something the best thing to do: just do it, don't think too much ´bout it. My favorite quote: "Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it."--Judy Blume;

Point out 3 highlights.

1. I watched a pair of festive coquettes (super tiny hummingbirds) flirting around for about 2 hours. Humming and buzzing, flying high and low, fast and slow. This was amazing!
2. I was able to record a 6 hours timelapse of the milkyway rising into the nightsky above the research station. Clearly a clear night it was.
3. I created a 5-days!! timelapse of mushrooms showing the growth of different mycena species within one minute. A hell of a photograpy set up and project itself.

Staff Interviews

These 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.

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.

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

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.