An additional land purchase of 126 acres brings Río Zuñac Reserve’s total size to over 2,400 acres, protecting pristine cloud forest, endangered and range-restricted orchids and other threatened species.
Rainforest Trust’s Ecuadorean partner Fundación EcoMinga has purchased a 126-acre property adjacent to the Río Zuñac Reserve in central Ecuador, bringing the reserve size to 2,424 acres. The newly acquired property consists primarily of pristine cloud forest. Because of the high rainfall and unusual geology, the reserve is rich in endangered, range-restricted plant species, especially orchids. In fact, the Río Topo- Zuñac watershed contains at least 20 species of plants found nowhere else in the world. In addition, the reserve harbors other Endangered species such as Black-and-chestnut Eagles and Mountain Tapirs, as well as Spectacled Bears and a highland population of Woolly Monkeys.
The Río Zuñac Reserve protects the lower, diverse slopes of the Cordillera Abitagua, an isolated granite East Andean front-line mountain range that is geologically distinct from the main body of the eastern Andes. Because it is the first significant mountain range that intercepts the wet winds of the Amazon Basin in the Río Pastaza watershed, there are high levels of humidity in the reserve. In contrast to the drier main body of the Andes, the unusual climate and geology of this area has led to the evolution of many locally endemic species of plants in the region, and two new species of Magnolia trees were discovered in the reserve in 2015.
“It’s a great privilege to participate in the protection of a place where science is literally struggling to keep up with the new discoveries,” said Dr. George Wallace, Rainforest Trust Chief Conservation Officer.
“Río Zuñac’s special location in the Ecuadorean Andes is truly a biodiversity hotspot.”
The reserve’s decade-long protection has made it a refuge for rare birds and mammals that are otherwise threatened by hunting and safeguards against encroachment by agricultural expansion and cattle ranching.
Along with the reserve’s expansion, Rainforest Trust’s local partner continues to educate neighboring communities about the values of this protected area and provides alternatives to agricultural expansion. The organization also employs guards to protect the borders of the Río Zuñac Reserve and plans to continue purchasing land parcels in the region to ensure the lasting protection of this diverse forested area.
Thanks to the support of our generous friends around the world and the SAVES Challenge that made this project a success. A special thank you to Juan Kohn for his leadership support.
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