PURCHASED: Saving the El Oro Parakeet, Ecuador

El Oro Parakeet BuenaventuraPROJECT SNAPSHOT

LOCATION: El Oro Province, Southwestern Ecuador

SIZE: 684 acres
KEY SPECIES: El Oro Parakeet, El Oro Tapaculo, also a host of other endemic and threatened birds and mammals including the Ecuadorian White-fronted Capuchin
HABITAT: Cloud forest
THREATS: Imminent deforestation for pastureland, climate change
ACTION: Add a critically important area to Buenaventura Reserve
LOCAL PARTNER: Fundación Jocotoco
FINANCIAL NEED: $220,000 for land purchase and management


$220,000OUR GOAL
Buenaventura orchid
 El Oro Parakeet
long wattled umbrellabird
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Project Update: The land highlighted in this project has been purchased. Additional land will become available so donations are still being accepted.

One of Fundacion Jocotoco’s longest-standing protected areas (established in 2000) is the Buenaventura Reserve on the west slope of the Andes in southern Ecuador. Preserved within this beautiful reserve are extensive areas of cloud forest as well as some fine deciduous forest at lower elevations. The wet cloud forest is maintained by clouds coming from the cool Humboldt Current just offshore. This spectacular forest is not protected anywhere else in the region, and as a result it is home to one of the world’s rarest parrots, the El Oro Parakeet, discovered in 1980 by Rainforest Trust President, Dr. Robert Ridgely.

Only at Buenaventura Reserve does this parrot enjoy any protection from the deforestation which still whittles away at what’s left of its habitat. Jocotoco has been doing a great job expanding the reserve as properties gradually became available for purchase and it now it contains some 5,000 acres. These properties have undergone reforestation with native tree species. However, unpurchased parcels in the region are still under threat of being cut for the cattle grazing that is the principal farming activity of this relatively fertile zone.

One such property is the farm owned by Ramirez, containing 684 acres (the dark pink parcel in the top left corner on map below). On this parcel there still are nice patches of forest where small flocks of the parakeet fly free and unrestrained. Jocotoco’s researchers have been studying the bird on this land for several years, thereby discovering much heretofore unknown information about their interesting home and family life. For instance, did you know that the whole group helps to raise the young, not just Mom and Dad? Given our long-term studies on this parcel, we are ecstatic to have the opportunity to purchase the acres and add them to the Buenaventura Reserve. Particularly since this parcel is at the perfect elevation for the parakeet, which lives only in a narrow elevational zone at about 2,500 to 5,000 feet above sea level.

Please join us to help Jocotoco buy this beautiful land and add it to their spectacular Buenaventura Reserve.You can help us save one of the world’s most special places. We have negotiated the low price of just $292/acre for a total price of $200,000.

Protecting Numerous Endemic and Threatened Species

Buenaventura is located in an area with a key concentration of endemic biodiversity.  The reserve is the only known location for several species of plants, and now (as a result of deforestation) the last refuge for some species of animals. The two most endangered species are the El Oro Parakeet (with about 150-175 individuals in the reserve now representing half of the world’s total population) and the enigmatic El Oro Tapaculo (that was formerly common, but inexplicably difficult to find now). Many of these species are not otherwise protected in Ecuador’s already fairly extensive national system of protected areas.


Most of the properties purchased or about to be purchased for the reserve have been partly deforested. Given the acute lack of contiguous habitat in the region, all of the deforested properties have been replanted with native tree species (Jocotoco has planted more than a million trees as part of its reforestation program). It is simply not feasible to wait for natural regeneration to occur or many species could well be lost due to habitat fragmentation.


Jocotoco’s researchers have been studying them there for several years, thereby discovering much heretofore unknown information about their interesting home and family life (a family group raises the young, not just a core male and female).

Climate Change

We have fairly clear indications that the area is being affected by climate change–not so much by an increase in temperature as by an increase in solar radiation (less cloud cover) and a decrease in overall precipitation levels (with more severe and protracted dry periods). One of our flagship birds, the El Oro Parakeet, appears no longer to occur at lower elevations (600-900 m) in the reserve–a zone where as recently as the 1980s, it was regular. Other species also seem to be affected as well; this is one reason we are especially targeting expansion of the reserve at higher elevations. Some bird species appear to be moving up the slopes of the mountain (possibly following wetter conditions), or have become much scarcer; a few actually seem to have disappeared. Given the degree of deforestation in western Ecuador, increasing the size of the reserve, especially at higher elevations, and reforesting pasturelands are the most important measures to help mitigate the direct and indirect effects of climate change.

Your support is a critical part of our conservation successes. Thank you for considering a donation today.
Map of the Project Area

map of Buenaventura