Municipal Protected Area expanded in Ecuador’s most threatened ecosystem
Strategic Area: Wild Places
Content Type: News
Thanks to your support, 41,000 acres are protected in Ecuador’s dry forest.
On Monday, the Paltas Municipal Council approved the expansion of Paltas Municipal Protected Area in southwest Ecuador, bringing it to a total size of 41,040 acres! The new area, divided into six “blocks” within the municipality, conserves some of the last remnants of dry forest in Ecuador.
Paltas Municipal Protected Area is dominated by dry forest habitat home to special and threatened wildlife like the cougar (Puma concolor) and grey-cheeked parakeet (Brotogeris pyrrhoptera). The area also contains the tara (Caesalpinia spinosa), a native tree whose pods are sustainably harvested by local farmers.
Mining and livestock are the primary threats to this area, threatening habitat and water supplies. Thanks to the expansion, Paltas Municipal Protected Area now safeguards water sources for eight parishes within the municipality, or 10,000 people.
According to Nature and Culture conservationist José Romero, “in addition to protecting important water sources, the blocks conserve the last remaining dry forest in the area.”
One of the newly declared blocks within Paltas Municipal Protected Area protects forest adjacent to Nature and Culture’s Pisaca Reserve. Within this area, the municipality revived an ancient practice of pre-Columbian indigenous peoples, the Paltas, who once lived in the block. The indigenous people dug ponds throughout the region to capture water during the four-month rainy season, which recharged springs to provide water in the dry season.
The municipality successfully excavated several infiltration ponds to implement the ancestral practice. Now, residents of nearby towns have a water supply for one and a half hours each day instead of 30 minutes, and have access to clean water year-round.
“Now we grow a lot of plants – yucca, plantains, fruits. Now we can water growing areas where it was not possible before,” said Mercedes Omaida Carrión, a local farmer.
In 2018, UNESCO’s International Hydrological Program named Pisaca as an international Eco-Hydrology Demonstration Site. This is the first Eco-Hydrology site in Ecuador, in the Andes, and one of only 23 sites in the world!
Paltas Municipal Protected Area was a result of collaboration between Nature and Culture, the Municipality of Paltas, and local communities and authorities.
According to Romero, “after seeing the work and activities Nature and Culture has done with local communities, we gained the trust of the local authorities. The municipality asked Nature and Culture for support to take care of and conserve their water sources.”
Paltas Municipal Protected Area was expanded thanks to financial support from the Andes Amazon Fund, BOS+, and generous supporters like you. With your help, Nature and Culture will continue to work with the municipality to develop the area’s Management Plan to ensure 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.