Organic agriculture

Minimizing the harmful effects of pesticides, chemical fertilizers and serving as a model of sustainability Santa Lucia provides the a range of organic products from our garden. We also produce other organic crops such as bananas, sugar cane and coffee using agro-forestry techniques. On your tours and as a tourists you can also make panela honey, powdered panela and marshmallow in a traditional way yourself.

Local nursery

Since 2007 Saint Lucia has been working with volunteers in the Nanegal's children center, originally thanks to the financial collaboration of the Mariana de Jesús Foundation. Volunteers work directly with the children and - in the past - helped constructing the outdoor playground, which offers great entertainment for the children. Santa Lucía was also involved in setting up a garden and a beautiful mural which depicts elements of the forest. The nursery in Nanegal is nowadays run by the local government, but keeps offering opportunities for volunteers who want to work with our youngest community members.

Environmental education

In 2007 we carried out our first environmental education program at the public schools of the area. The program was funded by the British Embassy in Quito had strong support of Rainforest Concern. More than 150 children from three local elementary schools participated in twelve workshops on environmental education. We shared knowledge about nature and tried to teach the participants appreciation for the forest and its inhabitants. We covered topics like the harmful effects of deforestation and how composting toilets work. Some games (search for treasure inside the forest) and fun on our popular giant swing were also included. In other workshops we also built organic and inorganic garbage bins at Nanegal Elementary School and conducted a program on separation and garbage management which lasted about a week. At Christmas the children of Nanegal enjoyed a puppet show called "Treasures in the Trash" thanks to the initiative of Santa Lucia. We are currently developing several new approaches the re-establish our programs of environmental education. Santa Lucía is part of a network of Forest Schools.

Culture interchange

Respecting and promoting local cultures is an important part of eco-tourism. In 2008 Santa Lucia worked together with the Esquel Foundation in a project to revitalize traditional activities such as making "chalas" (baskets) made of bamboo and the "National Ball" a ball game with a bat like a racket of very heavy wood. Thanks to Esquel, Santa Lucia now has a place of information on the traditional process and history of panela production.

We would like to thank all our past volunteers for their work. You have made an important contribution to the success of our project and we hope to see you all again some day.

Eco-Tourism Project

Saint Lucia follows the Good Practices for Eco-Tourism established by Rainforest Alliance. In 2007  we received the Certificate of Sustainable Tourism awarded by Smart Voyager to places that meet a series of strict conservation standards to protect the environment, fauna, well-being of workers and local communities.

Now internationally recognized the number of visitors to Saint Lucia has increased considerably. To increase our capacity, five new cabins have been built in order to offer our guests more privacy. Many volunteers worked very hard alongside with community members in the construction of the cabins. They also laid foundations for the hummingbird garden along the trails to and around the cabins

Thanks to the Esquel Foundation, Santa Lucia now has solar panels that supply some electricity for the kitchen. We are also investigating the possibility of energy supply by means of a hydroelectric plant and other sustainable sources of energy in order to provide our guests with basic electricity.

In December 2007 after a long process that lasted for many years, Santa Lucia finally obtained recognition as a "Cooperativa de Conservación y Desarrollo Sostenible Santa Lucía", being the first one in Ecuador. This change gave Saint Lucia the correct legal status, which we needed to operate his ecotourism business effectively.

Scientific Research

The Santa Lucia reserve is located within the Choco-Andino corridor, one of the most biodiverse areas in the world.

In the summer of 2008, Saint Lucia hosted four teams of scientists / volunteers from Earthwach who developed research methods in remote areas and collect data on the flora and fauna of the forest. It has been very exciting for the staff of Saint Lucia to participate in this project especially with our guides who are part of this research.

Earthwath groups visited Santa Lucía until 2012.

With the support of Rainforest Concern, Santa Lucia has been able to continue with the research and supervision of large mammals in danger of extinction such as the spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus) and Puma (Puma concolor), with the help of special cameras that detect the movement and capture the images.

Over the past years we have regularly received student groups from universities, such as Sussex and Lincoln from the UK and Luther College, St. Olaf and Standford from the US.

Apart from hosting groups we have also received independent researches who investigated topics, ranging from climate change, reptile and amphibian diversity to hummingbird behavior.