Biodiversity Research Institute in the Tropical Forest of Brazil

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About

The Biodiversity Research Institute (IPBio) is a place where research meets conservation. IPBio is an NGO that develops projects in environmental education and scientific research on biodiversity, ecology and on the behavior of species. In addition, IPBio 's mission is to encourage conservation, management and sustainable use of natural resources; promote the development of eco-tourism and cultural projects.

With only 7% of the Atlantic Forest remaining, we are rapidly losing one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspots. 200 birds and 21 primates are endemic. Conservation is critical. Volunteer Roles: 1) In Research Projects: Bioluminescent Mushrooms; Bioacoustics Project; Tree Inventory and Monitoring; Amphibian Research 2) Reserve Maintenance and Gardening: maintain trails, aquarium and microclimate greenhouse 3) Photographers/Movie Producers: wildlife photography; produce volunteer videos; short documentaries; our videos have been used by Discovery Channel 4) Fundraising and Communications - develop our social media; write grants for research equipment
Highlights
  • Visiting the town with the highest concentration of bioluminescent mushrooms in the world
  • Gaining hands on experience in the field of research and conservation
  • Participate in exciting activities such as tubing and visiting caves and waterfalls
  • Work for an organization which received accreditation as an advanced outpost of The Atlantic Forest Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO

Impact

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Questions & Answers

Reviews

95%
based on 57 reviews
  • Impact 9.1
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.5
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9.5
  • Housing 8
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Value 10
  • Safety 10
Showing 16 - 30 of 57
Default avatar
Elya
10/10

Best Volunteer Experience!

Your search is over! If you are looking for somewhere to volunteer in South America and you love animals or science, then this is the place! I have been volunteering around South America with my husband for the last 5 months, and this has by far been the best place yet! There is such a variety of activities that we have been doing that it is never boring. We have monitored trap camera footage, observed birds, monitored ponds and trees, and collected fish and river data! It has been so incredible being able to help the research efforts and get to see the amazing biodiversity in the Atlantic Forest first hand! The accommodations were also incredibly comfortable, from private rooms with personal air-conditioning units, to a fully stocked kitchen and living area, it was really lovely! This is such a special place and I am really sad to be leaving, but it has been such an amazing experience that I will remember it forever! I would definitely recommend volunteering at the Betary Reserve! This place is truly unlike any I have ever seen before. On top of the beautiful destination, the amazing research, and the fun activities, this place is so well organized! That is one thing we have had some difficulties with at previous volunteer locations, is a lack of organization. So it has been such a breath of fresh air to have things lined out, planned ahead of time, and on schedule!

How can this program be improved?
I honestly can't think of any improvements that could be made. This place was truly remarkable and I would definitely recommend it!
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Mariale
10/10

Amazing Experience

IPBio was a dream come true!
Get out of your zone of comfort (your country) to carry out a volunteer/internship in another country, culture and language are the experiences that you must live. People should be more interested in how biodiversity is affected by the fault of the human being and how much we are losing. In the reserve, what is being sought is preserving biodiversity through research and the different projects that operates with qualified personnel.
Take the opportunity to live a unique experience and seek to develop their fullest potential. Also enjoy the different attractions that has Iporanga and its surroundings to offer, enjoy the most because when one less think about it, you have to return to their country (always missing friends that left in the Reserve)

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
George
9/10

2 months as an eco volunteer

I spent 2 months as an eco-volunteer at the Betary Reserve getting involved in a wide range of projects. Despite not having any biological background, while i was at the reserve I worked on projects such as fish inventory, habitat monitoring , mushroom and tree inventory, all of which gave me time to work outside and enjoy the beautiful Atlantic rainforest. I also spent time helping to sort through all of the spectacular footage they have of the local wildlife and activities. Through all this I was able to was still able to learn a lot about biological research and conservation.

On the weekends I had plenty of time to enjoy some of the local tourism activities, such as caving, waterfall hikes and visiting cananeia, which were great fun and provided more opportunities to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and wildlife.

Yes, I recommend
Azra
9/10

Atlantic Rainforest Volunteering

My experience at IP Bio has been incredible and definitely something that I will never forget! The staff and volunteers have all been so friendly and made the reserve feel like home. The reserve itself is beautiful, with amazing wildlife around every corner.

There are a great range of projects on offer, giving volunteers the chance to try a bit of everything or to specialise and focus upon something that they really enjoy. As well as this, the range of weekend activities and the chance to hang out with the staff and locals is amazing and has meant that there is never a dull moment when you volunteer here.

My environmental and aquatic science background has meant that this volunteering experience has not only helped me to learn new skills but also put my own knowledge that I learnt whilst studying into practice. I hope that I have made a positive impact upon the research center and I am excited to see how they will develop and grow in the future to influence conservation work in Brazil!

How can this program be improved?
More information could be provided about specific research projects in terms of exactly what times of year they are being run, how long they have been in place for and the expected duration that they will be being practised. This will help volunteers to tailor their own experiences better so that they can time their trips more efficiently and also know whether they are taking part in a more long term project or a short one off opportunity.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Antonio
10/10

Amazing Experience

I came to the Atlantic Forest after deciding to take a sabbatical from the business world before starting my Master’s at Oxford. I was determined to go to Brazil and decided that travelling without a purpose was not for me. I had heard about the Betary Reserve as my friend Imran is a volunteer coordinator. The project also appealed to me in its conservation and research aims.
When I arrived, I had no experience in biology, conservation or research. Still, I hit the ground running, soon having a number of projects to contribute towards. During my time at the Reserve I helped set up a course for volunteers, prepare volunteer presentations in addition to helping around the reserve around the research projects. It was validating to watch my efforts contribute to the crucial conservation and education aims of the organisation. My favourite research projects were the Fish Inventory, where I searched for Fish in the river on a hot sunny day, the Frog Night Search, where we looked for Frogs (you guessed it) at night to gauge the biospheres biodiversity.
Outside of the Reserve I didn’t lack things to do either. I arrived on the weekend of the town’s anniversary and had a reggae concert to attend pretty soon after. Still, the best party was definitely Carnival. We all decided to go to Cananeia (a beach paradise, 2.5 hours away from the reserve) for a day at the beach, dolphin and crab watching, before heading to town for an amazing seafood dinner and the main event: Samba schools parading through town. I can honestly say it was one of the best experiences I have had so far.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Mariel
10/10

Video-volunteering in The Atlantic Forest

Volunteering for IPBio is something I could not have imagined. And I mean that in all the best ways. The welcome was warm and informative at the same time and my six-week-stay in the volunteer house couldn't have been better. During the day I was working as a video producer, putting my editing skills to good use. There already is an immense archive of footage made by the great biologists and previous volunteers on site and images caught with camera traps in the forest. The beautiful tropical plants and animals only make you want to add your own sightings to the film stock. With these images I was able to make some video's for the website and the youtube-channel (you should check it out, it gives a good idea of what life and volunteering here is all about). In the evenings and during the weekends you had time to take part in group activities or you could just chill. The surrounding area has a lot to offer: caves to explore and rivers to swim in. The forest in itself is amazing and has a diversity that is unmatched anywhere on the planet. It was delightful to actually experience this wonder of nature and take part in the effort of conserving it.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Nicholas
10/10

Can't wait to return!

I have stayed at the reserve for three weeks, and I am still captivated by the biodiversity of the Atlantic Forest. IPBio offers volunteers a chance to experience living in a rainforest, without having to sacrifice certain comforts (such as WiFi!). There is a great family dynamic at the reserve, and the place does start to feel like home.

Undertaking field research in the Atlantic Forest was an unforgettable experience, the views, the wildlife and the people made it both interesting, and enjoyable.
Contributing to Atlantic Forest conservation was incredibly rewarding, I only wish I could have stayed for longer. I highly recommend IPBio, it was a fantastic experience and one that I would love to try again.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
César
9/10

Life changing experience

In Reserva Betary, you will get a glance of the immensity of the Atlantic forest, the biodiversity is ridiculous, you will see more trees and insects than you can count, you will be amazed at the colors of plants and birds and you will be tired of the size and quantity of insects.
The people here really makes it easy for you, not only the volunteer coordinators, but also the local Brazilians working here, the biologist, gardener, managers, everyone is really welcoming and will always make your stay great.
There is always something interesting to do on weekends, either if you want to do some tours to giant caves or waterfalls, or having a barbeque with the other volunteers in the reserve, advancing and going deeper in your job, or just getting your camera and going for a walk into the jungle, it is very hard to get bored here.
Overall, I had a great time, learned a lot, got to know great places, great people, saw incredible landscapes and got amazed by the biodiversity of this place, it is an experience I will always remember, and will also, always recommend, eyes closed.

How can this program be improved?
Be more detailed about the actual concrete stuff a volunteer might be able to do in a specific time of the year, there wont always be birds to be realesed, or glowing mushrooms, etc.
Also, maybe being more specific about each program and what is done under it.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Yachi
9/10

Come and Volunteer

Being a volunteer at Reserva Betary is a very enjoyable experience. The Atlantic Rainforest is so beautiful and interesting things happening around you every day. You can spot loads of pretty birds, frogs and flowers at the reserve, seeing lizards walking around, watching tadpoles swimming in the pond, observing dragonfly laying eggs, wasps making nest and ants attacking cockroaches. At night, you can watch the starry sky, discovery bioluminescence mushrooms and insects, listen to birds, frogs and cicada singing. All the people working here are super nice and helpful. They make you feel at home and provide a relaxed working environment. I did tree inventory and some creative art projects. Also helped in other project when more hands needed. I am happy to stay so close with nature and spend time on making art. I learned basic knowledge of marking trees in the forest. Wish the tree inventory project could teach volunteer how to identify different tree species and let volunteer learn more things in the future. I highly recommend Reserva Betary for everyone.

How can this program be improved?
More cooperation with universities.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Miguel
10/10

By far the best volunteering experience of my life

After graduating from the University of Bath with an Economics degree and working in London for a couple years, I decided it was time to travel and do something radically different that is actually worth doing. Whilst I have been interested in environmental research and conservation for some time, I had not taken any real steps in that direction until coming to IPBio. And I am very glad I did.
As a Volunteer Coordinator, I guided volunteers and supported the team here on several projects ranging flora and fauna as well as diverse settings. This allowed me to gain experience in many different tasks, from monitoring animal pitfalls and recovering the precious bioacoustics recording deep in the forest to working in the lab looking for signs of BD disease in tadpoles and testing bioluminescent mushroom substrates. One of my favourite activities (understandably I think!) was searching for these glowing mushrooms at night in the forest, which we did a couple times. I also really enjoyed being responsible for the daily feeding of animals (yes, by the end I felt like we had developed some sort of relationship, although to what extent that was a one-way thing I am not sure) and occasionally supporting the Volunteer Programme Manager with his research and other ad hoc tasks.
Apart from the work, there are many opportunities to visit the surrounding region and all it has to offer (magnificent caves and waterfalls instantly spring to mind) as well as the small but charming town of Iporanga. As if that’s not enough, the reserve is well-run by some very friendly people (most of which are local) and there is even a beautiful, tranquil swimming spot one minute away from the volunteer house. So make sure you get some insect repellent and come along!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Mac
10/10

Volunteering in the Atlantic Rainforest

During a trip through South America, I set aside a month long period to volunteer at an NGO. I could not have chosen a more suitable location than the IPBio Reserve, situated in the diminishing Atlantic Rainforest. The reserve is situated in a very unique position, in that it is an unparalleled nature sanctuary, but also just a short drive from the town of Iporanga. This offers the opportunity to not only be immersed in the conservation projects occurring at IPBio but also near enough to civilization to grab essentials (great for long-stay individuals) and make the most of free time.
Given the variety of projects ongoing at IPBio, there is the opportunity to partake in a wide range of projects and also to be placed in an area of personal interest. Given my professional background, I was able to assist in a number of research projects, but also help in volunteer coordination and various administrative tasks.
The staff at IPBio allowed for my time spent at the reserve to be the most memorable. At other NGOs, I have experienced a lack of organization and general discoordination amongst the staff. This could not be further from the reality at IPBio. From the carefully prepared volunteer package; outlining everything necessary for your stay, including how to get to the reserve with ease, what to expect, what projects are ongoing, etc. to the daily involvement from the volunteer coordinators and research staff.
Overall I would recommend the volunteer program at IPBio to everyone looking to become further involved in an NGO on the forefront of biodiversity conservation. Given the breadth of the projects, there are opportunities for people with a science background looking to become involved in a leading research institution but also those with less experience hoping to become grow their conservationist perspective.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Jane
9/10

Living in Mata Atlantica!

I have really enjoyed my time at ipbio; working as a Biological Research assistant for the Bioluminescent Mushroom Project has been so interesting. I have had so many opportunities to do things that I never normally would have been able to do, from designing the new mushroom project logo to searching for undiscovered species in the forest. As the work is so varied, I never found it was too repetitive and felt like I was making a valuable contribution to the reserve and to the conservation of the natural area. Ipbio’s location in the amazing Mata Atlantica also adds to the volunteer experience, a day doesn’t go by when you haven’t seen something new or strange!
Overall I would definitely recommend working at ipbio!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Lidia
10/10

Every little step counts

Every little step counts. Every time a volunteer joins a program, he/she impacts not only through their work, but also with the unique perspective derived from their skills and experience. And even with their relationship with the staff, local communities and other volunteers.

I have volunteered on several projects around the world and avidly fed on the passion that spurs from everyone involved in these conservation or education projects. And IPBIO was no exception. In fact, it is probably the best experience I have had so far. Maybe because of everybody’s commitment. From the passionate founder, Sergio, who will be amazed by every little frog, insect, bird or animals he sees, with you. Add the extensive knowledge of all the biologists who devoted their lives to conservation. And the amazement of volunteers, who deeply believe their work matters, sparing no effort in all their projects.

This is why I hope you too will come to Reserva Betary. And help the Biodiversity Research projects of IPBIO and Celine.

Whether it is tree inventory, bio-luminescent mushrooms, camera traps, pitfalls, as well as cave exploring. Your help will matter. And you’ll make many new, very special friends. As I did. New friends to treasure. And, hopefully, meet again.

How can this program be improved?
Mosquito nets in windows and doors
Yes, I recommend
Natália with bioluminescent mushrooms
Natália
10/10

Living in the Atlantic Forest

If you love nature, the Betary Reserve is the place for you. No wonder it is called Biodiversity Research Institute; the biodiversity at the reserve is mesmerizing. All you need to do is pay attention, and you will encounter different species every day, so make sure you bring a camera with you! Volunteers can be involved in many different activities; I helped with camera traps, to record the mammals of the reserve; tadpole research, to observe the presence of a fungus responsible for the most deadly and infectious disease in amphibians; mushroom inventory; tree inventory; and feeding the animals that are used for environmental education. On top of all that, the reserve’s location is the best if you want to go visit beautiful places on your days off, like amazing caves and waterfalls. I had a great time volunteering at Betary Reserve and recommend it to anyone wanting to have a memorable experience immersed in the Atlantic Forest!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
jamal
9/10

Great Experience

I am from France and volunteered on reserve betary’s for 2 months, I really enjoy it.
IPBio is an excellent working environment and is very comfortable to live in the yellow house, surrounded by wildlife.
My mission on FreeWildlifeBrazil Celine is the tree inventory, the goal is to repertories all the different species of trees on the reserve.
My second assignment is to help the team build the release center for the birds.
Apart from the projects within Celine, there is a lot of activity to do here.
The weekend trips to caves and boya crossing across the various rivers in Iporanga have been another highlight, and you definitely need to stay a minimum of a month to be able to explore the various sites within and around the area.

Yes, I recommend

Interviews

Meet the Staff

About 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,...