The Cazaderos Nature Reserve protects one of the most important remnants of tropical dry forest in Ecuador
The Cazaderos Nature Reserve was declared a protected area within Ecuador’s National System of Protected Areas (SNAP), on November 9, 2022. This territory, which covers 12,108.16 acres, is located at the heart of one of the best preserved and largest remnants of tropical dry forest in Ecuador which, together with the Peruvian forests, constitute the most representative block of dry forest of flora and fauna of the Tumbesian region.
The impressive flowering of the Guayacanes, an event that happens every year at the beginning of the winter season, the presence of animals such as the crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), puma (Puma concolor), howler monkey (Alouatta palliata), several species of migratory and endemic birds, as well as the colorful and diverse species of tumbesian flora, make it a priority for conservation. Currently in Cazaderos a model of sustainable management of the territory is being built, jointly with the population and local authorities that seeks to take advantage of the attractions of the Reserve and the surrounding areas.
This sustainable management model will identify areas that are threatened by land use change for agricultural activities, logging, and hunting. It is estimated that currently, only 5% of the original dry forest in Ecuador is in a good state of conservation. Catalina Quintana, a researcher at the Catholic University of Ecuador, in an interview for Mongabay magazine, explains the value of the reserve: “There is a genetic potential, a representation of plants unique to our country.”
In addition, the Reserve is considered a natural laboratory to develop permanent research. The organization BirdLife Conservation (2009), due to the presence, abundance and endemism of birds, considers this territory as an area of global importance.
This declaration strengthens and will increase collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition, MAATE, in order to follow up on the construction and implementation of the management plan of the Reserve. In addition, the Dry Forest of southern Ecuador is positioned on the national map of protected areas; With this, it is expected that public and private organizations will increase their support for the conservation of these ecosystems and the local communities that inhabit them.
The management of the Cazaderos Reserve is in charge of the Nature and Culture Foundation Ecuador FUNACE, which seeks to promote a model of co-management of the area, together with the neighboring communities of the Reserve.
Species monitoring in the Cazaderos Nature Reserve
The crocodile is one of the emblematic animals of Cazaderos. Therefore, programs have been developed to strengthen research, training, and tourism around this species, one of the southernmost and continental populations of the country and at the same time very, little known.
The first studies carried out in this area reveal that there are approximately 97 individuals in the area of influence of the Reserve. “We have worked with local communities and guides to promote herpetological tourism (science that studies amphibians and reptiles). The program consisted of night outings to learn about crocodiles, amphibians and snakes in a non-invasive and friendly way,” explains Daniel Sanmartín, FANACE technician.
A similar program is being carried out together with the Nature and Art Foundation/Washu Project to encourage research and conservation of the golden-mantled howler monkey (Alouatta palliata aequatorialis). The first preliminary study in the Reserve has identified 119 individuals.
Sanmartín says that, as with crocodiles, through the training of local tour guides, the opportunity to develop sustainable tourism is encouraged in order to offer visitors the possibility of responsibly becoming familiar with the sites where this species is found.
FUNACE is working together with the Parish Government of Cazaderos, the organized Veconas communities and institutions and people interested in supporting in order to improve capacities and build infrastructure that allow promoting this area as a sustainable tourism offer. Ángela Piedad Rueda, president of the organization Guardians of the Border, believes that this new declaration will help promote all the attributes of this area.