New Nature Reserve Strengthens Protection of Ecuador’s Premier National Park

Alyssa Wiltse-Ahmad

Aug 6, 2018

NewsProtected Areas

Today, Rainforest Trust has helped establish an important new reserve at the eastern gateway to Podocarpus National Park, which holds the greatest concentration of biodiversity in Ecuador. Rainforest Trust teamed up with our local partner Fundación Jocotoco to purchase the 370-acre private property that houses ecotourism facilities with the objective of helping protect the threatened tropical forests beside the national park.

  • Forest view of Copalinga Reserve. Photo courtesy of Doug Wechsler.

The Copalinga Nature Reserve is an area half the size of Central Park and is an excellent site for ecotourism with its spectacular biodiversity, landscapes and an established eco-lodge that is already incorporated into the itinerary of tour groups visiting the region.

“This strategic land purchase is critical not only for the protection it provides to an imperiled national park, but because it offers high-quality accommodation facilities for ecotourism and thus an income stream to sustain conservation activities in this biodiverse region,”

Rainforest Trust CEO Paul Salaman said. “On a personal note, this reserve is a special one for our Rainforest Trust family, who came together and donated towards this project in memory of Beverly Ridgely, a long-time conservationist and father to Rainforest Trust President Bob Ridgely.”

Podocarpus National Park lies on the eastern flank of the towering Andes mountain chain and is recognized as one of the most biodiverse places in the world, with some 554 bird species having been recorded. While the Napo Giant Glass Frog is incredibly rare, it has been recently recorded near the Copalinga Reserve. The area also has the highest orchid diversity in Ecuador. Located in the pre-montane tropical forest zone, the newly purchased property has approximately 75 species of trees per acre.

  • Napo Giant Glass Frog. Photo courtesy of C.C. Solana.

In the tropical Andes, only an estimated 25 percent of the region’s habitat remains intact, with threat levels being particularly severe in the northern range from Venezuela to Ecuador. Although there are several large national parks in Ecuador, they lack adequate protection and at risk from logging. For example, the annual deforestation rate within and around Podocarpus National Park in southeastern Ecuador is up to almost 1 percent per year. This alarming figure, along with the small ranges of many threatened species, shows that additional protection in the buffer zone of the park is desperately needed to prevent the loss of rainforests.

Our vision is to expand Copalinga Nature Reserve further so as to provide a robust barrier to colonization and logging on the eastern flank of Ecuador’s most important National Park.

This purchase was made possible by the support of many friends but especially Jazmyn McDonald, Dale Henderson, the Baltimore Family Foundation and the SAVES Challenge. Thank you for your support!