A Conservation Area Receives Highest Level of Legal Protection in Ecuador
Strategic Area: Wild Places
Content Type: News
Thanks to donors like you, Mazán Municipal Conservation and Sustainable Use Area was upgraded to Ecuador’s National System of Protected Areas.
Earlier this year, the Nature and Culture Community supported the establishment of a new conservation area in Cuenca, Ecuador. The declaration of Mazán Municipal Conservation and Sustainable Use Area protected nearly 5,000 acres in the Andes, including fragile ecosystems and critical water supplies.
The area’s municipal conservation status safeguarded its habitat from threats like forest fires and cattle ranching. However, the reserve still required a national protected status to permanently prevent all exploitation activities, like mining, in the area.
With help from caring people like you, Mazán Municipal Conservation and Sustainable Use Area has officially been incorporated into Ecuador’s National System of Protected Areas! The declaration of Mazán Decentralized Autonomous Protected Area (Mazán) provides the reserve with the highest level of legal protection in the country.
85% of Mazán has been identified as a priority biodiversity conservation area because it conserves two of the least protected ecosystems in Ecuador’s National System of Protected Areas: high montane evergreen forest and páramo evergreen forest.
Wildlife in the area includes threatened species such as the Andean condor (Vultur gryphus), glass frog (Centrolene buckleyi), and red-faced parrot (Hapalopsittaca pyrrhops), and unique species like the grizzled Ecuadorian shrew (Cryptotis montivagus). The municipal water company ETAPA EP monitors large mammals using camera traps in the region. These cameras previously recorded for the first time wild spectacled bears (Tremarctos ornatus) breeding and discovered a rare mountain tapir (Tapirus pinchaque) population in the nearby foothills of the Cajas Massif Biosphere Reserve.
Mazán is also home to a critically endangered amphibian, the Mazán jambato frog (Atelopus exiguous). The declaration of Mazán and subsequent management plan will increase resources and research efforts to avoid the extinction of this species. Resources will likely come from ETAPA EP, the Municipality of Cuenca, and the water fund FONAPA.
The protected area is located within Ecuador’s remarkable Cajas Massif Biosphere Reserve, the first biosphere reserve in the western Andes of Ecuador, created as a result of collaboration between Nature and Culture and local institutions. Adjacent to additional protected areas like Cajas National Park and Yunguilla Protected Vegetation and Forest Area, Mazán secures critical habitat connectivity in the region.
Mazán also secures clean and abundant water for nearby populations. The protected area sits in the Mazán River micro basin. This basin supplies water to the Tomebamba River, which provides water for the city of Cuenca, Ecuador’s third largest city.
According to Nature and Culture conservationist Mónica Pesantez, the declaration of Mazán Decentralized Autonomous Protected Area recognizes conservation work that began almost 40 years ago. In 1984, the Public Drinking Water Company of Ecuador recognized the area’s ecological and biological importance and purchased land within Mazán. Since then, the Public Drinking Water Company has managed the land with the Municipality of Cuenca.
More recently, Nature and Culture played a leading role in declaring Mazán, working with partner organizations to map the area’s boundaries, develop the technical documents, and build social and political will to protect the area. The area was upgraded with the financial support of the Andes Amazon Fund and generous people like you!
“Thanks to the collaborative work of multiple institutions, we have been able to provide this area with the highest level of legal protection in Ecuador,” says Mónica.
With your help, Nature and Culture will support the Municipality of Cuenca and Public Drinking Water Company in sustainably managing Mazan for lasting and effective conservation impact.
Thank you for making this achievement possible! We hope that this bit of good news inspires you to continue fighting for nature and culture.
Did you hear? Part of Yacuambi Ecological Reserve has also been incorporated into Ecuador’s National System of Protected Areas! Learn more here.