| Great Green Macaw © Eric Kilby
| Chocó rainforest at Canandé © Jocotoco
| Dacnis Pechiescarlata © Jocotoco
September 19, 2014
Rainforest Trust’s Ecuadorian partner Fundación Jocotoco purchased six properties totaling 1,222 acres to expand the Río Canandé Reserve in Ecuador to 5,831 acres on September 18, 2014.
The reserve protects part of one of the last remnants of the Chocó lowland rainforest in Ecuador, which is considered a hotspot for biodiversity and has one of the highest concentrations of endemic and threatened species in the world. Río Canandé Reserve is also the Ecuadorian stronghold for the Critically Endangered Brown-headed Spider Monkey.
In Ecuador, far less than the 10% of the original Chocó forest cover remains intact. Due to the high level of endemism and the increasing threats facing this region, such as deforestation and the rapid spreading of African oil palm plantations, Fundación Jocotoco has made expansion of the Río Canandé Reserve a priority to protect the habitat of an extraordinary wealth of plant and animal species. In the next few years Jocotoco hopes to be able to acquire adjacent lands, before powerful oil palm interests arrive.
Río Canandé Reserve is partially surrounded by the Chachi indigenous territory, a block of the State Forest Patrimony, the buffer zone of the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve, and by the El Pambilar Wildlife Refuge.
The zone where the recently purchased properties are located contains healthy ecosystems and extraordinary biodiversity. During the last months, the forest guards of Río Canandé Reserve have repeatedly observed flocks of Great Green Macaws and troops of Spider monkeys in the newly added area. Such sightings attest to the importance of this sector for conservation.
“This new addition is a remarkable achievement for conservation in Ecuador,” said Rocio Merino, Executive Director of Fundación Jocotoco. “The expansion represents not only the protection of the habitat of the Great Green Macaws, but also creates the possibility of connecting Río Canandé Reserve with other protected areas.”
Dr. Robert S. Ridgely, Rainforest Trust’s President and one of Fundación Jocotoco’s founders, added, “Few places even in the Tropics can match the exuberance of life in the Chocó, and our Río Canandé Reserve preserves some of the best of this dwindling habitat left. Full of endemic birds, mammals (even our emblematic Jaguar!), and a host of other smaller but equally important creatures, the Chocó represents a paradise found. It’s a splendid addition to one of Jocotoco’s most important reserves.”
This great conservation success was achieved by Fundación Jocotoco, in partnership with Rainforest Trust, American Bird Conservancy, World Land Trust, and March Conservation Foundation. Of note was the participation of many friends of the late Don Carr, who together pooled their resources to create a very special memorial to a very special person. Two hundred and fifty of the most accessible acres in this purchase will be permanently named the “Don Carr Memorial Forest” and a guard station will be named for Don as well.