“The Chocó region of Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, but it’s also one of the most threatened. Thanks to strategic land acquisitions, the new Dracula Orchid Reserve will provide a much needed refuge for many endangered and endemic species,” said Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust.
Nearly a third of orchid species found in Ecuador and Colombia are threatened with extinction due to deforestation. It is believed that 14 Dracula species have already gone extinct for this reason. Orchid species also face threats from commercial collectors that supply Ecuadorian and international markets.
“I’ve never seen so much orchid diversity in such a small area. Each ridge has its own mix of species, many of them just recently discovered. A new road built here threatens this unique area with destruction by colonization, but this reserve will save an important part of it for posterity” said Lou Jost, Director of Fundación EcoMinga.
In addition to orchids, the reserve will also protect habitat for many endemic bird species, including the Long-wattled Umbrellabird.
EcoMinga has already begun the process of negotiating the purchase of additional properties that will expand the Dracula Orchid Reserve and protect new species in both the Dracula and Lepanthes genera which have recently been discovered.
Rainforest Trust would like to extend thanks to all donors and partners that helped raise funds for the Dracula Orchid Reserve, especially Luanne Lemmer and Eric Veach, the University of Basel Botanical Garden and the Quito Orchid Society.
Rainforest Trust is a nonprofit conservation organization focused on saving rainforest and endangered species in partnership with local conservation leaders and indigenous communities. Since its founding in 1988, Rainforest Trust has saved nearly 8 million acres of rainforest and other tropical habitats and has 85 projects across 22 countries.
Fundación EcoMinga is an Ecuadorian nonprofit conservation organization that establishes strategic, science-based reserves to protect unique ecosystems containing important clusters of locally-endemic plants and animals. Its focus is on Andean cloud forests, the bioregion with the greatest amount of endemism. The organization has protected almost 12,000 acres of habitat in eight reserves.