The spectacular--and threatened--forests of Ecuador's north coastal region. Photo by Ryan Lynch.
Coastal Ecuador represents one of the most biologically important yet threatened ecosystems in all of Latin America. Located within the Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena Biodiversity Hotspot at the nexus of some of the wettest forests in the world (Chocó rainforests) and the last remaining fragments of coastal dry forests of South America, it is one of the 25 most important concentrations of biodiversity on the planet. Unfortunately, estimates show that approximately 98% of native forest cover on the coast of Ecuador has been lost to deforestation and other human activities, making it one of the most severely threatened areas on earth in terms of biological extinction.
To curb further losses to this incredibly biodiversity-rich and threatened region, SavingSpecies joined with IUCN-Netherlands to support the efforts of an Ecuador-based non-profit conservation organization, the Third Millennium Alliance (TMA) and its partner Grupo Ecologico Jama-Coaque (GEJC). This work is a model of how local conservation efforts, with support from scientists and donors around the world, can make a real difference for the future of nature.
This map, created by Dr. Clinton Jenkins, shows the corridor strategy from humid montane forests to dry forest closer to the coast. Each parcel is a critical part of SavingSpecies and its partners' efforts to protect Ecuador's stunning biodiversity.
As you can see by this stunning map, we are moving step by step to connect two existing protected areas: the Orange "1" (and Yellow "2" and "3" parcels we helped purchase) in the east, and the Blue in the west.
Specifically, we are seeking to help purchase a 102 hectare (252 acres) parcel, "4" in Bold Red that in many ways is the lynchpin of the entire corridor project. The largest parcel in the East-West proposed corridor, Parcel "4" contains mostly intact forest that also runs up to the ridgeline, leading to more forests to the north on the other side of the ridge.
And these forests are home to spectacular wildlife! Years of research have unveiled a bounty of biodiversity:
270 bird species (16 globally threatened; including the endangered grey-cheeked parakeet (Brotogeris pyrrhopterus);
47 reptile species (18 globally threatened, including the brown wood turtle (Rhinoclemmys annulata));
28 amphibian species (5 globally threatened; 3+ species new to science; including the Ecuadorian blue glass frog (Cochranella mache); and
18 mammal species (2 globally threatened, including the critically-endangered Ecuadorian white-fronted capuchin monkey (Cebus albifrons aequatorialis).
This young ocelot, a species listed as 'Near Threatened', will have more room to grow thanks to our restoration project. Photo by Ryan Lynch.
Purchasing the 102 hectare parcel "4" will get us further to our goal of a single, strong corridor. Once completed, the corridor will stretch the roughly 3 km forested ridgeline that runs between the two reserves, thus developing a single continuous protected area approximately 1,000 hectares (almost 2,500 acres) in size.
You can learn more about this effort by clicking on our Ecuador Project Page.
And please help SavingSpecies make this "dream corridor" a reality!