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Strategic Land Purchase to Expand Habitat Protection in the Chocó of Ecuador

Ecuador

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  • Great Green Macaw. Photo by Francisco Sornoza.

The Canandé Reserve in Ecuador is a hotspot for biodiversity, and many species with restricted ranges depend on the reserve’s lowland tropical rainforests. This includes the Critically Endangered Canandé Magnolia –  documented only at this reserve – and the Critically Endangered Brown-headed Spider Monkey, one of the world’s rarest primates. In addition, at least 36 Endangered Great Green Macaws inhabit the area, perhaps the largest known group in Ecuador. Despite this site’s conservation value, nearby expanding lumber and palm oil industries pose great threats to this diverse ecosystem.

Rainforest Trust seeks an additional $1,282,916 to help local partner Fundación Jocotoco purchase 3,754 acres to expand the Canandé Reserve and to prevent massive clear-cutting in the area for timber. This expansion strategically connects the Canandé Reserve with Fundación Cambugán’s nearby Tesoro Escondido Reserve to establish the largest private reserve network in the Ecuadorian Chocó.

Biodiversity

  • Mache Glass Frog. Photo by Christian Paucar.

The Canandé Reserve and the proposed new parcels consist of Ecuadorian Chocó lowland tropical forest. This area provides habitat for several threatened species, such as the Critically Endangered Canandé Magnolia, known only to occur at Canandé. This area has a high density of Brown-headed Spider Monkeys, which are also Critically Endangered. Researchers identified thirteen groups of these spider monkeys in a 2015 survey conducted at this reserve.

In addition to the magnolia and spider monkey, at least 36 Endangered Great Green Macaws inhabit the area. According to Fundación Jocotoco, this could be the largest known group in Ecuador. Many other threatened species live in this region. Over 300 species of birds have been recorded, including the Baudó Guan, Banded Ground-cuckoo and Scarlet-breasted Dacnis. A survey of reptiles and amphibians in the reserve by the Museo Ecuatoriano de Ciencias Naturales detected 71 species, 35 of which are national endemics and three globally threatened, among them the Endangered Mache Glass Frog. The Endangered Ecuadendron Tree is the sole member of a genus found only in Ecuador.

Challenges

  • Expansion of oil palm plantations. Photo by Martin Schaefer.

The Ecuadorian Chocó is experiencing exceptionally high rates of deforestation due to commercial logging, clearing for oil palm plantations and cattle pastureland expansion. These activities are facilitated by a major road construction campaign that is fueling the deforestation and uncoordinated colonization of the last rainforests in the region.

Communities

  • Local community members. Photo by CIFOR.

Members from two local communities will work as park guards at the Canandé Reserve. In addition, our local partner works with another local organization that trains community-based researchers to collect environmental data and monitor species in the region. Our two local partners, Fundación Jocotoco and neighboring Fundación Cambugán, are collaborating on land protection efforts in the region at large. Fundación Cambugán owns the adjacent reserve, the Tesoro Escondido Reserve, which is immediately east of the Canandé Reserve. The two organizations are working together toward achieving reserve connectivity.

Solutions

  • Educational bird-blitz in Canandé. Photo by Martin Schaefer.

Rainforest Trust and our local partner seek $1,282,916 to purchase land to expand the Canandé Reserve by 3,754 acres, connect it to Tesoro Escondido Reserve and protect key parcels in the surrounding area. To better protect the growing Canandé Reserve, our partner will increase the number of park guards patrolling the area and identify key land parcels that can be purchased to prevent clear cutting.

 

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