Reserve Expansions in Ecuador Increase Protection by Over 500 Acres

Across Ecuador, Rainforest Trust and its local partner Fundación Jocotoco have successfully added 521 acres to three previously established reserves.

The Buenaventura Reserve was expanded by 180 acres, as part of a large conservation initiative to create a 222,395-acre ecological corridor throughout the El Oro province. The Buenaventura Reserve is the only protected area in the region, and it is ranked as one of the most threatened biodiversity hotspots on Earth, with an annual deforestation rate of nearly 2 percent. This high level of deforestation, combined with the already fragmented nature of this landscape, makes it crucial to save the last remaining forest patches in the Buenaventura Reserve area.

This reserve harbors 14 globally-threatened bird species, four of which only occur in western Ecuador, and approximately half the global population of Endangered El Oro Parakeets reside entirely within reserve today. The few dozen remaining Endangered Ecuadorian Tapaculos depend on the reserve for their survival. Saving this well-forested property from logging also protects many rare plants and provides habitat for the Critically Endangered Ecuadorian White-fronted Capuchin.

The Narupa Reserve was expanded by 243 acres and will now be protected from threats such as illegal logging, deforestation and agricultural expansion. This reserve is located in the Napo bioregion of northeast Ecuador and is one of the most biodiverse areas in the world. Enlarging the Narupa Reserve protects viable populations of globally threatened species. Rainforest Trust will continue helping its local partner expand the Narupa Reserve to eventually achieve strategic connectivity with the Reserva Ecologica Antisana and Sumaco-Napo-Galeras.

The Río Canandé Reserve was expanded by 98 acres as part of the long-term objective of establishing an ecological corridor between Canandé and the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve. This reserve is a hotspot for biodiversity with one of the highest concentrations of endemic species in the world. The reserve holds the sole population of the Critically Endangered Canandé Magnolia and is home to the Critically Endangered Brown-headed Spider Monkey, one of the world’s rarest primates. The area is also critical for the Mache Glass Frog and is one of the few sites where the species is found. The Río Canandé Reserve has been identified as a Key Biodiversity Area and serves as a refuge for over 350 bird species, including at least 36 Endangered Great Green Macaws that inhabit the area – perhaps the largest group in Ecuador.

Rainforest Trust will continue to support the purchasing of critical properties that will expand the Buenaventura Reserve, the Narupa Reserve and the Río Canandé Reserve to provide security for some of the world’s most biodiverse and threatened habitats.

 

Thank you to our generous friends and the SAVES Challenge for making these projects a success. For more information on how you can support conservation projects, please visit the Conservation Action Fund.

A Thriving Sanctuary for Bird Watchers in the Bolivian Amazon

Thanks to support from Douglas Wilson, this Rainforest Trust-site provides protection for highly threatened birds, empowers a local community and prevents logging that would have decimated a vital rainforest habitat.

For centuries, the small village of San Jose de Uchupiamonas, nestled in the Sadiri Mountain of Bolivia, sat isolated in the vast rainforest, surrounded by one of the most mega biodiverse protected areas on the planet. The rainforest supports over 400 bird species, including the Vulnerable Military Macaw. Groups of Vulnerable White-lipped Peccaries are frequently seen in the area, as are Jaguars and Pumas. The jungle breathes life with the symphony of owls, tanagers, tyrannulets, macaws and many others, making it a paradise for bird watchers.

In the late 1990s, the Bolivian government created a 60-mile road through this lush rainforest habitat of Sadiri to the village. Early on in its existence, the road through the rainforest and foothill forest of the mountain put enormous pressure on the delicate forest ecosystem and spurred a rise in the unsustainable logging of the area’s large and valuable Mahogany trees.

In an effort to avert this crisis, Rainforest Trust partnered with the Bolivian organization Pueblo Nuevo to investigate options with the community. The area’s spectacular natural beauty and abundance of biodiversity led the groups to determine that ecotourism was a feasible long-term strategy for conservation in this region.

In 2008, the Uchupiamonas community conceived an idea for Sadiri Lodge to create a touristic sanctuary, with the aim to save the forest and prevent proposed logging projects. The name Sadiri is a derivation from the word S’adiri, which means in the local indigenous language Tacana “the old resting place,” making reference to its location at 2,953 feet, just at the boundary between the Andean highlands and the Amazonian flatlands.

Rainforest Trust’s partner began the tourism development project, and in 2010 the indigenous village of San Jose de Uchupiamonas voted overwhelmingly in favor of a final plan to protect a wide swath of the forest they control by creating a Tourist Refuge (a strict protected area). Rainforest Trust’s partner completed Sadiri Lodge in 2013 and saved over 62,000 acres of rainforest from logging.

Since its establishment, guests and bird watchers have been flocking to Sadiri Lodge from all corners of the world. Some of the most popular wildlife to observe are six different species of macaws, including colorful Blue-and-yellow Macaws, rare Scarlet Macaws and noisy Military Macaws. Visitors can see nine owl species, such as the majestic Rufescent Screech-owl, Subtropical Pygmy-owl and Amazonian Pygmy-owl. There is also a rich variety of endemic birds such as the Rufous-crested Coquette, Yungas Tyrannulet and Emerald Toucanet.

Rainforest Trust President and avid bird watcher, Dr. Robert S. Ridgely, had the privilege of visiting Sadiri Lodge and explained, “If you are fortunate enough to have found your way to Sadiri, it´s safe to say you are in for a fabulous time in some of the most beautiful and pristine lower foothill forest anywhere. The place abounds with birds, from minuscule coquettes to huge and noisy macaws…If you are not a birder, you may become one!…They have created the mecca, and all for the benefit of the indigenous San Jose de Uchupiamonas Community.”

To learn how to support areas that are vital for threatened species and communities, please visit the Conservation Action Fund.

Rainforest Trust Launches Conservation Circle Program for Corporate Partnerships

Rainforest Trust recently announced the launch of its new corporate partnership program, the Conservation Circle.

Rainforest Trust’s new premier business sponsorship program allows corporations of all sizes to participate in the organization’s mission to purchase and protect threatened tropical habitats to save endangered wildlife through local partnerships and community engagement.

But protecting the rainforest has many other benefits as well. By supporting Rainforest Trust’s efforts to halt the deforestation of tropical forests, corporate partners help significantly reduce carbon emissions responsible for global climate change. Currently, deforestation accounts for up to 15 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions each year, which is nearly equivalent to the annual emissions from the world’s transportation sector. In addition, protecting rainforests supports local communities by providing fresh water and food, as well as other ecosystem services.

The Conservation Circle program offers corporations four levels of sponsorship: Patron, Director, President and Chairman. This provides organizations the opportunity to customize their sponsorship based on their business goals. All sponsorship levels give companies high brand visibility across multiple marketing vehicles, including social media promotion and the use of a Rainforest Trust media kit.

“The Conservation Circle is a great opportunity for corporations to make a real difference globally by helping us to save species, care for communities and protect our planet,” said Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman.

“Our corporate partners, like Endangered Species Chocolate, play a key role in raising awareness about our mission and supporting our conservation programs across the planet.”

Endangered Species Chocolate became a supporter of Rainforest Trust in 2016, but formalized their participation in the Conservation Circle this year at the Chairman Circle level.

“Rainforests are integral to the survival of thousands of endangered species, and we are proud to support Rainforest Trust’s land conservation and sustainability efforts. While Endangered Species Chocolate works toward our goal of giving back $1 million to our partners annually, we’re proud to support organizations pursuing vital missions, including Rainforest Trust,” said Curt Vander Meer, CEO of Endangered Species Chocolate.

Eco-guards In Action: From Poachers To Protectors

Rainforest Trust is supporting its local partner Conservation des Espèces Marines to create the 12,360-acre Dodo River Community Natural Reserve along the southwestern coast of Côte d’Ivoire.

The primary purpose of this proposed reserve is to protect a key tract of vanishing coastal forest and adjacent wetlands, river, ponds, mangroves and beaches which also serve as a key nesting site for many marine turtles, such as the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle and the Green Turtle, and is the most important nesting site in West Africa for the Vulnerable Leatherback Turtle. Through efforts to protect this important landscape, our local partner is creating a lasting impact throughout the community and inspiring change to protect this habitat and its species.

In 2017, our local partner worked to recruit and train 16 community members who were formerly poachers to become eco-guards for the forest and beach. These eco-guards came from the local villages and bring a wealth of knowledge about the landscape and wildlife which enables them to be vital protectors when they conduct their daily patrols of the areas. The eco-guards work alongside Ministry of Water and Forestry agents and Maritime police agents. Collaboration between the local eco-guards and government agents ensures that the importance of protecting this area and its species is acknowledged and valued across sectors.

From July to December of 2017, the trained eco-guards were able to identify and remove 147 cable snare traps from the proposed reserve area. The local partner is already seeing wildlife return to the area, and the seasoned eco-guards have discovered a possible Leopard track and evidence of the possible presence of the Endangered Pygmy Hippopotamus. In addition, they heard the calls of the Sooty Mangabey, a monkey species which is under high threat from deforestation and hunting for its meat. The eco-guards also actively patrol the shorelines day and night to protect female turtles laying their eggs, prevent egg poaching and provide oversight as turtle hatchlings journey to the ocean.

A key component to ensuring lasting conversation success in areas inhabited by humans is that the local community members are engaged in conservation efforts and that they believe in the importance of conserving the area. Rainforest Trust is thrilled that the eco-guards are deeply committed to regional conservation efforts and that they are actively gaining the support of their friends and families to protect the future Dodo River Community Natural Reserve.

To learn how to support projects like the Dodo River Community Natural Reserve, please visit the Conservation Action Fund.