These expeditions are run at a series of week-long camps across the Iwokrama Rainforest Reserve. This forest is one of the most diverse in South America and an excellent place to see some f the iconic species such as Jaguar, Tapir and maybe even Harpy eagle. Those participating will be helping research teams collect data on the following:
The Iwokrama forests on the Guiana Shield in Guyana cover 1 million acres of mainly pristine lowland rainforest, these have been handed by the Guyanese government to the Commonwealth Secretariat to manage as a demonstration site, in a way that protects both biodiversity and develops income for local communities. The first attempt to develop such a strategy was the idea of using the site for ecotourism to sustainably produce income. However, this failed to attract sufficient numbers to what is a very remote area. The decision was made to develop a limited logging programme in such a way that it had minimal impact on the spectacular wildlife of these forests. Half of the Iwokrama Forest was set aside as a Wilderness Preserve where no activities or extraction is allowed. The remaining forest is the Sustainable Utilsation Area of which part is set aside for selective timber harvesting on a 60-year rotation. The area that is set aside for logging makes up only 29 percent of the entire Iwokrama Forest. The thesis that the foresters started with was that only a handful of the species have any commercial value and that only these would be targeted. Detailed maps are prepared of each 1km x 1km block of forest showing the position of each of the trees to be targeted and where the skid trails should be installed to minimize any losses of other species. The net result is that only 1% of trees (5% by volume) in any block are being harvested or damaged by the extraction process. This harvesting seems to produce as much return on investment as traditional harvesting techniques which are considerably more damaging, but does this new approach also minimise impacts on wildlife? The Opwall teams are helping scientists to compare the biodiversity value of a range of taxa in sites that have been recently logged, logged some years previously and pristine wilderness areas.
Most of our volunteers fundraise for their expedition costs. Find out more.
At the start of the expedition you will spend a couple of nights at the Iwokrama Forest Research Centre where you will complete some initial training. Accommodation at this site is in shared single sex dorm rooms. After this training you will move to one of the field camps and will be staying in hammocks. The camps have field toilets and washing is in the river.