Two New Water Protection Areas in Ecuador
Strategic Area: Water
Content Type: News
Newly declared Garrapata Water Protection Area and Esperanza Chalpatán Water Protection Area secure clean and abundant water supplies for 131,820 people.
Nature and Culture International has supported the creation of two new Water Protection Areas in Ecuador. The newly declared Garrapata Water Protection Area and Esperanza Chalpatán Water Protection Area protect a total of 78,296 acres and secure clean and abundant water supplies for 132,400 people.
“Water Protection Areas” is a new national-level conservation figure in Ecuador. These areas are defined by their strategic importance as water sources for human consumption and/or to guarantee food security and the rights of nature.
The status legally safeguards forests and other habitats from all exploitation activities, like mining, ensuring clean water supplies for human consumption and other use. By focusing on source water protection, we can also protect the incredible biological and cultural diversity found in these areas.
The newly declared Esperanza Chalpatán Water Protection Area encompasses 75,472 acres of diverse ecosystems in northern Ecuador. Established on May 6, 2021, the area is the largest Water Protection Area in the country!
Páramo ecosystems make up more than 50% of the protected area. Páramos have the ability to capture, store, and slowly release water from mist and rain, ensuring the provision of water resources to the lower parts of the basin. Esperanza Chalpatán protects 54 streams and 27 lakes that contribute to the primary rivers in the area. The conservation of these water resources directly benefits 130,000 nearby inhabitants. Additionally, the páramos of Esperanza Chalpatán generate water for the Chocó region in Ecuador, one of the most biodiverse places on Earth.
47% of Esperanza Chalpatán protects forests of frailejones in Ecuador. Frailejones are members of the cosmopolitan sunflower family (Asteraceae), large “daisies” in the genus Espeletia. When these plants are standing in the mist, it is easy to understand how they could be mistaken for friars wearing brown, robes. Hence the name Frailejón in Spanish, meaning a “Big Friar.” Due to threats like expanding agriculture, mining, and fires, all species of Espeletia are considered, if not endangered, at least vulnerable or threatened.
The first Water Protection Area on the Ecuadorian coast, Garrapata Water Protection Area was established on April 30, 2021, southwest of Esperanza Chalpatán. Spanning 2,824 acres of montane forests and grasslands, the area contains important water resources, including the upper basin of the Garrapata River. The conservation of these resources will directly benefit 1,250 nearby inhabitants.
Garrapata was once a safe haven for wildlife, but many species have disappeared from the area due to deforestation and human activities. Over 81% of the area has been deforested primarily due to unsustainable agricultural expansion. With sustainable management and restoration, Nature and Culture and local partners aim to recover wildlife habitat in the area.
Esperanza Chalpatán Water Protection Area and Garrapata Water Protection Area were established thanks to financial support from the Tinker Foundation and generous donors like you! The areas are a result of collaboration between Nature and Culture International, Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment and Water, regional governments, and local communities.
Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment and Water asked Nature and Culture to support the declaration of ten Water Protection Areas this year. Our local conservationists have protected four areas to date. With your help, we will establish six additional Water Protection Areas in 2021! These areas are of ecological and hydrological importance for the country, and the world.
Thank you for making these achievements possible! We hope that this bit of good news inspires you to continue fighting for nature and culture.