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

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Questions & Answers

Reviews

95%
based on 64 reviews
  • Impact 9
  • 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 64
Default avatar
Rowan
10/10

I truly discovered my passion in life here!

My time at IPBio was absolutely unforgettable! During my two month stay, I served as a research assistant for the numerous amphibian studies, as well as an eco-volunteer, assisting with various other projects in the field. Every day, I spent either the morning or the afternoon in the lab with tadpoles and frogs; I did everything from feeding them and cleaning tanks, to measuring lengths, taking masses, and photographing them under microscopes for data collection!

The other half of my day was spent in the field, overseen by the lovely and super knowledgeable Marleen, collecting data for a variety of other projects at IPBio. One of my favorites was wading in the river to gather temperature and velocity of the water, analyze the substrate composition, and catch fish to get a better idea of the species diversity in the environment. Another awesome project I got to help with was the pond habitat monitoring, which was set up by a fellow volunteer during my time at IPBio. Lily created a monitoring system to track the health of a variety of aquatic habitats on the reserve, and once a week we would collect data from one of the ponds, rotating through them over the weeks. My favorite part was probably identifying the macro-invertebrate species in each pond, which required us to sift through a small sample size that we collected, picking out a variety of insect larvae, tiny crustaceans, snails, and aquatic worms to identify.

Not only were the projects here so interesting and fun, they were impeccably well organized. The staff were so supportive and helpful, and fun as well! Being my first time out of my home country, they made the process as smooth as humanly possible, and Imran answered all of my silly little questions graciously and quickly before my arrival. Accommodations were better than I could have ever expected, when I arrived I was pleasantly surprised by the luxury of having my very own AC unit in my room! Adriana is not only an absolute sweetheart, but keeps everything at IPBio sparkling clean 24/7. I honestly don’t know how she does it! Anna and Henrique are so so knowledgeable in their fields, and taught me so much about the Atlantic Forest’s ecosystem and biodiversity. My fellow volunteers during my stay were all so interesting and wonderful, it was an honor and pleasure to get to know them, for whatever the length of time our paths crossed.

The weekend trips I had the opportunity to experience were truly astounding, and just opened my eyes even more to how stunning and unique Brazil is. It is SO worth budgeting out some extra money to go on at least one of the trips, whether it’s relaxing on the beach in Cananaeia and watching dolphins play basically right by the shore, or hiking deep into the jungle to see the largest cave opening in the world, you will not be disappointed.

I had no idea how passionate about amphibians I would become while here in Brazil- being an Ecology and Environmental Science student in the US, I was drawn to IPBio’s projects in general, but had no special interest in amphibians. After my time volunteering, I have decided to go on for my masters and hopefully become a PhD candidate in herpetology down the line! They are fascinating creatures and I think anyone who has the chance should get to know them a little better; they are an important bioindicator for many biomes, and can tell us so much about the health of the environments they inhabit. So, thank you IPBio for igniting this passion in me, and for giving me the opportunity to find it! I hope to return soon, and see all of the wonderful people (and frogs) I got to know during my stay. Obrigada, Brazil <3

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Kelsey
9/10

Thank you IpBio!

My experience at Reserva Betary was all I could have asked for. I was able to work on a personal bioacoustics project that allowed me to learn a new software and data management technique while enjoying the immense beauty of the Atlantic Forest with inspiring and motivated individuals. The internship provided the perfect balance of freedom to meet my research requirements and support at every step of the process. It was really an ideal way to learn skills as new and exciting as bioacoustic analysis without the stress of sitting in an office, plus the ability to assist in a variety of other field projects. IpBio is very unique in the very high level of support volunteers are provided in conjunction with the of ecological field protocols performed efficiently and professionally.

I could not even imagine a better workplace, constantly surrounded by hummingbirds, butterflies, and endemic palms. The staff at the reserve are among the most warmhearted individuals I have encountered. The work being done at the reserve is performed with utmost sensitivity to the sustainability of the landscape as well as the locals whose livelihoods depend on the natural heritage of the area. All volunteers are seamlessly integrated into this conservation work. I highly recommend the experience and am grateful for the opportunity to have assisted this organization in any way.

How can this program be improved?
The bioacoustics program is just beginning, but now that it has started, set protocols from literature would be very helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Vladislav
10/10

Great team in the Atlantic Forest

I have volunteered at Betary Reserve for two months and have thoroughly enjoyed my experience. The field research station and the nature in the reserve are absolutely beautiful. Everyone, from staff to the volunteer coordinators, are extremely attentive, supportive and patient and overall form a great team. The volunteer coordinators greatly care about the well-being of the volunteers, proactively encourage feedback on what could be improved on a daily basis, are very open to new ideas (in fact, a few of the long-running projects are volunteer-initiated) and greatly appreciate your work. As an Eco Volunteer I enjoyed the diversity of data collection tasks that I was given. Coming from a non-ecology-related background, I learned various new things in terms of ecological issues and data collection methods. In terms of free-time activities, I haven’t had a single weekend during the program without at least one group activity, such as a hike to a cave, that most, if not all volunteers eagerly join. All in all, my volunteer in Betary Reserve has been both an enriching and enjoyable experience in which I met great new people. Highly recommend!

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Marta
10/10

Beautiful!

It was such a beautiful experience to work at IPBio, the volunteers I have worked with were international and really friendly. The staff was prepared, helpful and fun. The main activities were monitoring the habitat of ponds in the reserve, do an inventory of the trees, of the mushrooms, of the fish, gardening, do creative projects for the institute and more.
The place is beautiful, peaceful and it was really hard to leave. I highly reccomend this to whoever is interested in nature, insects, birds, amphibia

Yes, I recommend this program
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Emily
10/10

Volunteering on the Betary Reserve

My time at the Betary Reserve was absolutely lovely! Being surrounded by such a large amount of beautiful nature was a very welcome change from my daily city life back in Australia. I assisted in many of the projects on the reserve from photography to monitoring of ponds to inventories of trees and wildlife. There was never a boring day and I would have loved to stay longer to keep on learning about the many things the area has to offer.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Emily
10/10

Volunteering on the Betary Reserve

My time at the Betary Reserve was absolutely lovely! Being surrounded by such a large amount of beautiful nature was a very welcome change from my daily city life back in Australia. I assisted in many of the projects on the reserve from photography to monitoring of ponds to inventories of trees and wildlife. There was never a boring day and I would have loved to stay longer to keep on learning about the many things the area has to offer.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Raphael
10/10

Rewarding Experience

Translated Review:
My name is Raphael Ribeiro Francisco, I'm 26 years old. I'm a student of veterinary medicine.
During the months of April and May / 2018, I had one of the most rewarding experiences of my life working as a volunteer at IPBio.
Aside from the ambiance being amazing, the staff are incredibly responsive and I could feel at home right away in the early days.
My initial goal was to work with the monitoring of wild animals, large and medium-sized mammals, and I was responsible for the assembly of the trap cameras and the analysis of the captured images.
In addition, I had the opportunity to help make several other contributions, such as: fish inventory, forest inventory, tadpoles monitoring and aquatic habitat monitoring.
The Volunteer Project at the Betary Reserve was an accomplishment, would recommend to all people who love being close to nature and want an extra experience in that environment.
Thank you IPI for the incredible work I had the opportunity to contribute in that short space of time.

Original Review:
Meu nome é Raphael Ribeiro Francisco, tenho 26 anos. Sou estudante de medicina veterinária.
Durante os meses de abril e maio/2018, tive uma das experiência mais gratificantes da minha vida trabalhando como voluntário no IPBio.
Além do ambiente ser incrível, os funcionários são incrivelmente receptivos e pude me senti em casa logo nos primeiros dias.
Meu objetivo inicial era trabalhar com o monitoramento de animais silvestres, mamíferos de grande e de médio porte, diante disso fiquei responsável pela montagem das câmeras trap e a análise das imagens capturadas.
Além disso, tive a oportunidade de ajudar a realizar também diversas outras contribuições, como: inventário de peixes, inventário florestal, monitoramento de girinos e monitoramento de habitat aquático.
O Projeto de voluntariado na Reserva Betary foi uma realização, recomendaria para todas as pessoas que adoram estar próximo a natureza e querem uma experiência a mais nesse meio.
Obrigado IPBIo pelo incrível trabalho que tive a oportunidade de contribuir nesse curto espaço de tempo.

Yes, I recommend this program
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 this program
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 this program
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 this program
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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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 this program

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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,...