Contribution starting at $2,175
Exported from Streamline App (
7+ days (avg. $311 a day) Includes accommodations, food, and all related research costs
Wildlife & Ecosystems

Wildlife and Reforestation in Brazil

Reserva Ecológica de Guapiaçu- REGUA, Cachoeiras de Macacu, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Map it
Lead Scientist
Activity Level
Very Active
Wilderness Camp/Dorm
Special diets accommodated
Staff-prepared meals
brazil mountains
volunteers in brazil
volunteers survey forest in brazil
volunteers in brazil
surveying wildlife in brazil
hiking in brazil
brazil mountain view
brazil mountains
volunteers in brazil
volunteers survey forest in brazil
volunteers in brazil
surveying wildlife in brazil
hiking in brazil
brazil mountain view

Around the world, ecosystems are collapsing as trees are logged and forests disappear. Large-scale reforestation efforts aim to reverse this decline—but how successful are they?

reforestation expedition in brazilThe Serra dos Órgãos mountain range of Rio de Janeiro State creates an amazing landscape of spectacular ridges, valleys, and lowlands, stretching from magnificent mountain summits to mangrove forests on the coast. The Reserva Ecológica de Guapiaçu (REGUA) is nestled into the lowlands of these mountains, and is home to a unique wealth of biodiversity. REGUA houses at least 60 mammal species, including the elusive Southern Woolly Spider Monkey and the puma.

These breathtaking forested mountains and the unique animals that live within them are under incredible strain. Only 15% of the original forest still stands, and what does remain is very fragmented and disconnected. To combat this decline and to safeguard the area’s biodiversity, Brazil’s government, conservation organizations, and NGOs have invested in large-scale reforestation efforts. While these efforts are urgently needed, they should be based on strong scientific data to ensure that the way the area is reforested restores both species use and ecosystem services.

On this project, you will investigate small, medium, and large mammals in REGUA, from the common Southern Four-eyed Opossum to the rarely-seen puma. Using both live traps for small to medium animals and camera traps for larger animals, you will collect information about how the mammals of the reserve are responding to reforestation efforts. This project will actively contribute data to the management plan of REGUA, and will produce technical reports for reforestation decision makers. Additionally, you will aid in reforesting the reserve, helping to grow seedlings and planting them within the forest. Your time in the reserve is limited, but the trees you plant will be protected and may stand for decades to come.



A Typical Itinerary

  • DAY 1   Arrive, travel to field site, orientation
  • DAYS 2-4   Habitat monitoring, mammal surveys
  • DAY 5   Recreational Day (rest or sightseeing)
  • DAY 6   Habitat monitoring, mammal surveys
  • DAY 7   Departure

Volunteers on two-week teams will replicate the itinerary above.



When you arrive, the researchers will conduct an orientation and provide you with information on the areas you will be studying. Field work includes some of the following tasks:


Conduct mammal surveys

You will install camera traps and live traps, check the traps, handle and process small mammals (optional), collect and clean traps, and enter the data collected.

Measure the success of reforestation
Measure the success of reforestation

You will mark trees and plots on reforestation banks and take field measurements of trees and their conditions, including: stand density, canopy coverage, and assess tree growth rates.

Measure the success of reforestation
Conduct reforestation activities

You will aid in reforesting the Atlantic Forest area by harvesting seeds from the forest, processing seeds, organizing the nursery by species, and planting tree seedlings (only during the rainy season).

Field conditions and research needs can lead to changes in the itinerary and activities. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.



3 Reviews on this Expedition

If you have been on this expedition, others considering attending would love to hear about your experience.
Mary Rowe | March 14, 2023
I was very excited to be returning to Brazil for a second Earthwatch project and “Wildlife and reforestation of Brazil, was all that I’d hoped, from the warm reception we received from our hosts, to the brilliant birding that greeted us every day, to the nonchalant tapir that ambled by on a morning walk, to the delicious local food and the astounding beauty of the area. The project staff was passionate about the local wildlife and it was heartening to see the care with which the monitored wildlife was treated. If a staff member felt an animal was overly stressed by the trap, it was released immediately and all animals were returned to exactly where they were trapped for release. The Atlantic Forest has shrunk so much over the years, so I feel very encouraged by the visible progress that has been made in taking back this land for the forest and its creatures.
Russell Dengel | May 7, 2020
I've been on quite a few Earthwatch expeditions over the years, and I must say this one ranks as one of the best. Brazil was a new experience for me, and I found the Atlantic Rain Forest to be a mystical place. Just a handful of miles outside of Rio de Janeiro, the expedition camp facility is insulated from the rest of the world. It is a peaceful retreat that offers good food and lodging. Surrounded by the lush vegetation of the Atlantic coastal range. We spent our working days trekking the forested trails searching for the small mammals that inhabit this region. Manoel, our expedition's Principle Investigator, patiently answered our questions and pointed out the exotic Flora and Fauna during our morning research surveys. Later in the day, we were back at the lodge, taking part in the efforts to reforest the recently cleared areas for farming. This effort was particularly satisfying when you saw how much of the landscape had been restored to its natural state through the efforts of these individuals. Nightly dinners allowed us to meet and exchange tales of our daily wonderings with other researchers and guests. Truly a rewarding experience that gives you the feeling that your efforts are making a difference.
Gail Dengel | April 9, 2020
I loved this expedition! Working with the animals lured me into signing up, but the plant work was really inspirational. I learned many things about planting and transplanting that are useful in my own environment. The location is breathtaking, the facilities are comfortable, and the people are very congenial and a pleasure to work with. They took good care of us and made sure the experience was enjoyable, educational, and very satisfying

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