Thanks to donors like you, there is a new Municipal Conservation and Sustainable Use Area in Ecuador.
Nature and Culture International celebrates the protection of 31,812 acres in southwestern Ecuador. The newly declared El Guabo Municipal Conservation and Sustainable Use Area (El Guabo) conserves critical water sources and biodiverse ecosystems – including habitat for three recently described frog species.
El Guabo spans cloud and montane forests, paramo grasslands, and wetlands in the province of El Oro. The area contains one of the last remnants of humid piedmont forest in the region, a moist montane forest increasingly threatened by logging and expanding agriculture. Found between the Chaguana and Pagua rivers within El Guabo, this forest type holds a sample of biodiversity from the western foothills of the Andean mountain range.
The area’s diverse habitats are home to a spectacular array of wildlife with El Guabo confirmed so far to host 45 species of amphibians, 74 species of reptiles, and 556 species of birds. A recent study by Nature and Culture identified mammals such as the oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus), Central American agouti (Dasyprocta punctata), and lowland paca (Cuniculus paca) in the area.
El Guabo is also home to three recently described species of terrestrial frogs. The species, belonging to the genus Pristimantis, were discovered in 2016 during an investigation carried out by the National Institute of Biodiversity – Ecuador. We are hopeful that further biological evaluations will identify even more special species.
Part of El Guabo lies within the Macizo del Cajas Biosphere Reserve. Established in 2013, the Macizo del Cajas Biosphere Reserve spans 2,400,000 acres and includes El Cajas National Park and the Quimsacocha National Recreation Area, which play an important role in water provision and regulation.
In linking protected areas, El Guabo establishes additional habitat connectivity in the region. Connectivity allows wildlife to move and migrate, boosts biodiversity and resilience in degraded ecosystems, safeguards genetic flow between populations, and ensures species are better able to adapt to the changing climate.
Additionally, El Guabo secures critical water sources for the local population. The area regulates, collects, and stores water for consumption, production, and irrigation. Protecting water sources within the area will benefit 50,000 inhabitants in the region.
El Guabo was created in response to growing threats in El Oro province, including deforestation, fires, and mining. According to Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment, between 2008 and 2014, 15,000 acres of forest in the province were lost each year due to deforestation.
Mining is a primary concern of community members in the region. Local farmer Manuel Cabrera witnessed the devastating impacts of mining in a neighboring municipality, including water contamination and water scarcity. He has been working to secure safeguards to prevent a similar situation in El Guabo ever since.
Nature and Culture joined forces with Manuel and the municipal government in 2020 to protect this special place. Last year we finished a comprehensive study on biodiversity and ecosystem services in the province of El Oro. We’ve also supported Manuel and other farmers in obtaining land titles to secure property rights.
Declared on June 15, 2021, El Guabo is a result of collaboration between the Provincial Government of El Oro, the Municipal Government of El Guabo, the Ministry of Environment and Water of Ecuador, and the Management Committee of Macizo del Cajas Biosphere Reserve, and Nature and Culture International. Funding for the project was provided by Andes Amazon Fund and generous donors like you!
With your help, Nature and Culture will continue to work with local communities and authorities to develop the area’s Management Plan to ensure lasting and effective conservation impact. We will also support local partners in upgrading El Guabo to Ecuador’s National System of Protected Areas. This national status will provide the reserve with the highest level of legal protection in the country and permanently prevent mining in the area.
Thank you for making this achievement possible. We hope that this bit of good news inspires you to continue fighting for nature and culture.