Building the Amazonian Platform
Bringing local governments and indigenous nationalities together to create 11 million acres of continuous, protected forest in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
On December 28, 2021, Nature and Culture International and the governors of Morona Santiago, Pastaza, and Zamora Chinchipe signed an agreement that marks the beginning of the proposed “Amazonian Platform for Forests, Climate, and Human Wellbeing.”
The Amazonian Platform spans 3 of our Ecuadorian mosaics – Pastaza, Moronora Santiago, and Podocarpus el Cóndor, and creates a collaborative agreement between the governors of the Ecuadorian Amazon and Indigenous organizations to protect a largely intact section of dense Amazonian forest. This union promotes strategies that reduce CO2 emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and incorporates Indigenous ancestral practices to conserve biodiversity. By joining the Amazonian Platform, local communities are committing to sustainably managing and protecting around 11 million acres, making up the largest biological corridor of continuous forest in Ecuador.
The collective effort between local governments and Indigenous nationalities comes at a critical moment, as threats to the Ecuadorian Amazon from deforestation, mining, agricultural expansion, and development increase daily.
Nature and Culture has supported conservation efforts in Pastaza for over a decade. In 2017, we helped establish the 6.3-million-acre Pastaza Ecological Area of Sustainable Development in the center of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Shortly after, we supported the province in joining the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF), a subnational collaboration between 38 states, provinces, and regions from 11 countries to protect forests, reduce emissions, and promote sustainable development.
The Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force went on to provide funding for Pastaza to develop a subnational REDD+ Implementation Plan, with Nature and Culture as an implementation partner. The REDD+ Implementation plan sets sustainable management goals and creates avenues for more climate funding to be sent directly to the region.
The provincial and indigenous governments of Morona Santiago have committed to protecting 2.5 million acres in the Morona Santiago region, which is now on track to be declared a provincial protected area by the end of 2022. And with the help of Nature and Culture, Zamora Chinchipe declared a 1.1-million-acre provincial protected area in 2019. This sets the stage for these two provincial governments to follow in Pastaza’s footsteps and implement REDD+ plans of their own.
By joining forces to create the Amazonian Platform, these three provinces and local Indigenous nationalities are committing to reducing carbon emissions from deforestation, fighting degradation of their forests by restoring degraded areas, promoting environmental education, enhancing sustainable livelihood projects, incorporating sustainable mobility, and managing conservation areas, among other initiatives.
Preserving The Andean Corridor
Connecting protected areas across two countries’ borders, down the spine of the Andes Mountain range.
Spanning 236 miles, and three of Nature and Culture’s mosaics – Podocarpus el Cóndor and the Sangay Podocarpus mosaics in Ecuador, and the North Andes mosaic in Peru, the Andean Corridor project in Ecuador and Peru will protect vital ecosystems in the mountain regions. These areas include rich cloud forests and paramo grasslands that are home to endangered species such as the spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus) and mountain tapir (Tapirus pinchaque).
Located in the Tropical Andes, the project aims to protect one of the most biologically diverse places on our planet. This global hotspot contains about one-sixth of all plant life in the world and contains the largest variety of amphibian, bird, and mammal species. A critical inclusion in the planned protected area is the Andes’ eastern slope, which is considered the world’s number one biodiversity hotspot due to its species richness and diversity. Its ecosystems help to regulate the natural cycles that produce and renew the planet’s air, water, and climate.
So far, Nature and Culture has successfully worked with local governments and communities in the Andean Corridor to establish over one million acres of reserves. Nearby local and national governments and communities have also asked to partner with Nature and Culture, hoping to expand land and watershed protection throughout the corridor. With financial support, this project could additionally protect almost 3 million acres of key ecosystems and diverse habitats. The term “connectivity corridor” highlights the wide range that many of the endangered species traverses, including the spectacled bear and Andean condor, who can cover up to 150 miles of terrain a day in search of food. Protecting these far-reaching ecosystems means giving these animals adequate space to roam.
Cuenca de Mayo – Mexico
A 220-mile corridor that connects four federally protected areas.
Nowhere else in the world can you find both wolves and jaguars in the same ecosystem. The window is closing to protect this vanishing ecosystem, yet the opportunity to conserve at a large scale still exists. Located in Alamos, Mexico, Cuenca de Mayo is an area in the northern-most region of the tropics and is one of Earth’s most unique ecosystems. With the protection of Cuenca de Mayo, we aim to create a permanent contiguous habitat connecting existing Nature and Culture reserves around Alamos with four federally protected areas to the northeast. In total, these connected areas will span 220 miles and 4.5 million acres! The corridor will be used by a wide range of national-level endangered species like the jaguar, migratory global endangered species like the thick-billed parrot, and endemic endangered species like the lilac crowned amazon.
CONANP (the National Commission of Protected Areas in Mexico) approached Nature and Culture and asked for help to declare Cuenca de Mayo a Federally Protected Area in the Rio El Mayo watershed. The public sector has suffered several budget cuts for the administration and management of existing federal protected areas. Without project support, CONANP will not be able to move this process forward, which is why they enlisted Nature and Culture for support, giving us the opportunity to work together to ensure the protection of this incredible area.
Monitoring species like the spectacled bear and jaguar for effective conservation
Monitoring is essential for effective conservation and management of threatened species. In the northern Andes of Peru, Nature and Culture has joined forced with local communities to monitor the spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus), South America’s only bear species. As with many species, the spectacled bear population is declining primarily due to habitat loss. They are also illegally hunted for their meat and body parts and occasionally killed by farmers protecting their livestock and crops. These conservation threats have caused the spectacled bear’s International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) status to reach ‘vulnerable’, meaning the species is at high risk of extinction in the wild. With support from partners like you, our local team will train community members on the use of camera traps and scientific research, joining forces to protect and conserve the spectacled bear and other endangered species in the region.
In Bolivia, Nature and Culture is working with partner Nativa Bolivia and the Guarani Charagua Iyambae Indigenous Autonomous Government to monitor the jaguar (Panthera onca) and other large mammals near Ñembi Guasu Area of Conservation and Ecological Importance. Spanning 2.9 million acres, Ñembi Guasu is the first protected territory under an autonomous Guaraní indigenous government in Bolivia, which prioritizes spaces of environmental and cultural importance. By monitoring mammals, we can determine their conservation status and implement initiatives to better protect species and their habitat. Thanks to donors like you, technicians from Nativa Bolivia and Guaraní park guards have been able to record ten jaguars in the area with camera traps! We will continue to work in the area conducting research, monitoring species, and protecting habitat.