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What you can do


What you can do

Volunteers at Timburi Cocha have the opportunity to participate in a number of different activities...

Biodiversity monitoring

As Payamino is situated within one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth, recording and monitoring plants and animals is of great importance to us and to global conservation efforts.

Station staff conduct their particular research projects and in addition supervise other longer term biodiversity monitoring projects for which we depend on the help of volunteers. To find out what research is currently taking place in the station, please do not hesitate to ask us. The following are a selection of projects which have previously been available:


Collecting dragonflies from a variety of freshwater habitats around Payamino, using butterfly nets. It will also include taking short notes about each collection point, learning to identify species, and photographing specimens for use in an ongoing species list of the area. Specimens are preserved.


Collecting butterflies from various habitats in Payamino using different collection techniques. It will also include photographing butterflies to compile an ongoing photo-library for the area, and possibly work on distribution patterns and species density. Specimens are preserved.


The Neotropics boast the greatest diversity of bird species in the world, and the species composition of every area can be very different. Depending on the time of your visit, there may be the possibility to help record bird biodiversity to expand an ongoing species list of the area. This will involve 5 AM treks through the forest to collect birds using mist nets. Specimens are released after identification.

Jumping sticks

Jumping sticks are odd-looking relatives of crickets, grasshoppers, and katydids, although they more closely resemble "stick bugs" in appearance. They are an understudied group of insects and unique to the Neotropics. Here in Payamino work has been underway for a number of year to record these strange animals and study their reproductive behaviour. This will involve collecting jumping sticks in the rainforest, measuring them, and noting down behavioural and sexual traits. Specimens are released after study period.


Ecuador has one of the largest concentrations of frog species in the world. Recording frog biodiversity will involve collecting frogs – often after dark, when the forest becomes a chorus of sicadas and amphibians – and learning to identify species, to contribute towards a photographic and descriptive frog identification key for the Payamino area. Specimens are after identification.

Biodiversity within bromeliads

Bromeliads are a family of Neotropical plants which are famous for growing on trees and housing many plants and animals between their leaves. Basking in the sunlight plants on the forest floor are denied, they absorb nutrients from the rainwater and debris collected between their spiral rosette of leaves. This micro-pools provide an excellent home for a variety of life forms – from vines and mosses, to worms and grubs, even tarantulas and frogs! Assisting with this project will mostly involve helping to disassemble bromeliads collected from various heights in the tropical canopy and identify the animals living within them, as well as treks to different areas of rainforest to collect the bromeliads.


Please note – Most of the staff changes annually and therefore projects may vary. We try to ensure this site is kept up-to-date, as well as our Research page, but please do not hesitate to contact us to know what projects are underway or what activities are available.



Tropical gardening

The station recently started a vegetable garden.

Currently, yuca, pineapples, chillies, two types of banana, and coffee are grown and harvested around the station clearing (though we are yet to succesfully make a decent brew from our coffee beans!). The infrastructure for a small greenhouse is up and in need of finishing, to protect young crops from the tropical storms.

We want to begin planting things that the community don't usually grow. Why do this? Certain crops, such as yuca and plantain, can be bought from local farmers; by growing different roots and vegetables, we can continue to buy locally and hopefully reduce the size and frequency of large grocery trips to the nearest city (not very near!).

Additionally, growing other vegetables in Payamino may encourage local farmers to expand the variety of their crops and enrich their diet sustainably.


Cultural preservation and sustainable development

You would be working closely with the community under the guidance of our Culture and Tourism Coordinator. At the moment a primary interest is the agricultural tradition of the region, investigating how it affects the rainforest and whether it is sustainable. Documenting traditional knowledge as well as encouraging its preservation within the living community are also key focus points.

Specific activities will vary massively depending on what is underway at the time of your stay, but you can expect it to involve interviewing members of the community, documenting their knowledge, and arranging cultural activities. You would be interacting a lot with the village, an excellent way to get to know another culture and other languages.

Natural resource management

Although the people of Payamino are no longer strictly subsistence agriculturalists and raise many cash crops for sale in nearby towns, they primarily rely on traditional swidden farming. In this system, an area of forest is cut down and used to grow local crops. This field is then used for 1-3 years and left to fallow. As the former farmland is grows from fallow field into secondary forest, farmers weed out certain plants in order to favour of ones which are useful to them. The station is interested in determining how sustainable this form of agriculture is in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Assisting with this project will involve longs walks through rainforest and farmland, mapping farmland in terms of use, plant collection and preservation, and talking to local farmers.

English lessons

To teach you should have an English-teaching qualification and will be making your own lesson plans. Although much of the community shows an interest in learning English, as of yet the village receives no English class, therefore you would be pioneering a new project with the help and support of the station.

Doing your own research

Academics, independent researchers, and University students hoping to conduct their own formal research project should see our Research page.

You can of course participate in a variety of activities if you choose to volunteer with us!

Volunteers will have a main focus; however you can participate in different activities during your time here – the longer you stay for, the greater variety of projects you can contribute to!

All volunteers help with the cooking, cleaning, and general camp maintenance. The station provides a friendly and international environment, so you'll feel right at home at Payamino in no time!