ECUADOR

Buenaventura Reserve Expansion 2018

Project Cost: $260,150

Funding Raised: $260,150

$720.64 per acre (1 acre = 43,560 sq ft)

100% of your donation goes towards Conservation Action.

2X The Impact

Thanks to generous support from our donors, we have successfully reached our fundraising goal for this project.

Buenaventura Reserve is located in the Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena ecoregion, a biodiversity hotspot that is restricted to a narrow swath of land from the Andes to the Pacific along western Colombia and northwestern Ecuador. It harbors 15 globally threatened bird species, the highest density of any private reserve in Ecuador. The proposed property for purchase has a high conservation value as an initial one-day survey found at least three globally threatened bird species that only occur in western Ecuador: the Endangered Gray-backed Hawk, Vulnerable Rufous-headed Chachalaca and Endangered El Oro Parakeet. Saving this well-forested property from logging will also protect many rare plants and provide habitat for the Critically Endangered Ecuadorian Capuchin Monkey, which occurs within Buenaventura Reserve and in forests west of this property.

Rainforest Trust seeks $260,150 to help local partner Fundación de Conservación Jocotoco expand the Buenaventura Reserve by purchasing 361 acres with an extraordinary conservation value. The expansion of this reserve is part of a larger conservation initiative to establish a more than 200,000-acre ecological corridor throughout the El Oro Province.

Photo: Landscape view. Photo courtesy of Michael Moens.

 

Fast Facts

Location:
Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena ecoregion

Size/Acres:
361

Key Species:
White-fronted Capuchin (CR), El Oro Parakeet (EN), El Oro Tapaculo (EN), Gray-backed Hawk (EN), Grey-cheeked Parakeet (EN)

Habitat:
Rainforest, dry forest

Threats:
Deforestation and climate change

Action:
Land purchase to expand protections

Local Partner:
Fundación de Conservación Jocotoco

Financial Need:
$260,150

Price per Acre:
$720.64

Total Carbon Storage (Mt CO2):
45,000

Biodiversity

Western Ecuador is among the five most globally threatened biodiversity hotspots.

A very strong gradient in rainfall leads to a variety of habitats and ecosystems within this region, with the southern part being dry with less than 15 inches of rainfall a year and the northern part being very wet with 160 inches a year. This gradient is produced by the cold Humboldt Current moving away from the Ecuadorian coast towards the Galápagos Islands. As a result, this region is home to more than 11,000 species of vascular plants and 900 species of birds. This unique landscape and high level of biodiversity explains why not a single protected site would be sufficient to prevent the extinction of species, as different species live in the dry southern part compared to the wet northern part. Buenaventura Reserve is situated at the interface between the dry and wet ecoregions, thereby safeguarding species from both. Within Buenaventura Reserve, 61 bird species have been recorded, including the most important populations of Endangered El Oro Parakeet and El Oro Tapaculo, both of which were discovered only recently. For both of these species and four additional subspecies of birds that may be elevated to species rank, it is the only site where they are protected. Buenaventura Reserve is also a safe haven for another 13 globally threatened bird species. Several research teams have investigated the amphibian and reptile species within the local partner’s reserve system. These surveys have discovered at least 16 species new to science, nine of which are found in Buenaventura Reserve, with five of those only known to exist in Buenaventura, again demonstrating its value for biodiversity protection.  

Photo: White-fronted Capuchin. Photo courtesy of Haplochromis.
 

Challenges

Western Ecuador has a high annual deforestation rate of 2 percent.

This makes the area surrounding Buenaventura Reserve highly fragmented, increasing the importance of protecting the last remaining forest patches in the region. Given this high rate of deforestation, sizeable intact forests are only found to the northwest of the reserve. This is why expanding in this direction is a strategic plan for the greatest impact. Because this reserve is the only protected area in this part of the Chocó ecoregion, it needs to be sufficiently large to maintain viable populations of the many endemic and threatened species residing within to ensure their long-term survival. Fundación Jocotoco has a target size of 12,355 acres for Buenaventura, which is currently 6,545 acres. Climate change is another challenge to the long-term conservation of the biodiversity of this area. It causes upslope movements and increased genetic isolation even among populations of mobile species such as the El Oro Parakeet. Therefore, it is paramount to increase the altitudinal span of the reserve, which will serve as a corridor for altitudinal movements of species. The proposed expansion will also protect a new watershed thereby allowing more species to move into the safe haven of Buenaventura Reserve.  

Photo: Deforestation. Photo courtesy of Byron Puglla.
 

Communities

The position of Buenaventura as an integral reserve of the province will be strengthened by the declaration of the ecological corridor...

No communities live within the Buenaventura Reserve or are involved in the proposed expansion. However, the reserve is well-respected by neighboring communities and good relationships exist with the local and regional governmental authorities. In particular, the position of Buenaventura as an integral reserve of the province will be strengthened by the declaration of the ecological corridor, of which his reserve is one of the four core areas.  

Photo: Workshop participants for corridor creation. Photo courtesy of Jocotoco.
 

Solutions

This region of Ecuador is ranked among the most threatened biodiversity hotspots on Earth, caused primarily by habitat destruction and climate change.

If action is not taken immediately, annual deforestation rates will likely reach a magnitude of high endemic species loss. Rainforest Trust seeks $260,150 to help the local partner expand the Buenaventura Reserve by purchasing 361 acres with an extraordinary conservation value. The expansion of this reserve is part of a larger conservation initiative to establish a more than 200,000-acre ecological corridor throughout the El Oro Province. Currently, Buenaventura Reserve is the sole core area within the proposed corridor. The local partner will mark the boundaries of the Buenaventura Reserve with posts and rebuild the fence on the southern boundary to prevent cattle from trespassing into the newly added protected area. The partner also has four park guards who will add the new protected area to their current patrols. (Photo: El Oro Parakeet nest boxes. Photo courtesy of Doug Wechsler.)