August 14, 2012 | One of the world’s most endangered ecosystems received a boost last week when the Ecuadorean Government and local municipalities announced they would seek the declaration of a 780,000-acre Biosphere Reserve to protect the country’s tropical seasonal forests.
These forests, confined to only a small portion of Ecuador and Peru, are unusual for a tropical country as they are dry half the year and brimming with lush vegetation the other half. High numbers of endangered species that are endemic, or found only in this ecosystem, are also present. Sadly, these forests are also extremely threatened, and the region is considered one of the world’s highest conservation priorities as a result.
The new biosphere reserve will build on a decade of work by Nature and Culture International and other local actors to protect the best remaining forests of this threatened ecosystem. It would also connect to Peru’s Noroeste Biosphere Reserve – thereby creating an immense bi-national area dedicated to “environmental, economic and social sustainability.” We are proud that the proposed core regions of the new area will center around three NCI reserves: Cazaderos, La Ceiba and Laipuna.
We have been active here since 2001, purchasing over 50,000 acres for protection in reserves and working closely with local communities to enact land management and economic strategies. The latter include honey cultivation from native bees, the production of goat milk cheeses and yogurts, and the creation of an internationally-marketed perfume from the fruit of the Palo Santo tree; all oriented to promoting forest conservation while increasing economic well being.
The idea for a new biosphere reserve was endorsed by NCI and local municipalities after a visit by Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador, during the annual flowering of the brilliant Guayacán trees, which bloom across the region in a spectacular sea of yellow every January.
Now, we will increase efforts to protect and expand the core areas and assist in preparing the official technical proposal for the Guayacanes Biosphere Reserve – for approval by the Government of Ecuador and then the United Nations.
Renzo Paladines, Director of Nature and Culture International in Ecuador, credited the group’s successful work in the region to its flexibility and dedication. “By taking advantage of strategic opportunities, we can achieve incredible conservation results – while significantly improving the lives of local people,” he said.
Biosphere reserves are a vital tool for governments and NGOs seeking to carry out regional planning for sustainable development. The Guayacanes Biosphere Reserve will be Ecuador’s 5th biosphere reserve, and the second that builds off the efforts of Nature and Culture International. In 2007, the Podocarpus-El Condor Biosphere Reserve was declared by UNESCO, capping several years of intensive field work and on-the-ground coordination by Nature and Culture International.
Are you passionate about saving the natural world? Your gift to Nature and Culture International will conserve land at an average cost of only $30 per acre, and will help protect this unique ecosystem forever. Please help by donating toady.