Ecuador

Saving the Largest Remaining Corridor of Chocó Forest in Western Ecuador

Project Cost: $3,658,740

Funding Raised: $3,163,973

$459.29 per acre (1 acre = 43,560 sq ft)
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The Chocó is one of the most vulnerable and biodiverse ecosystems in Ecuador, with less than 2% of the original vegetation remaining and the fastest deforestation rate in the country. Rainforest Trust and partner Fundación de Conservación Jocotoco seek $3,658,740 to expand Canandé Reserve by 7,966 acres. Previous strategic purchases secured the most important properties, preventing industrial logging in the area. The partner is also working towards establishing a buffer zone to the governmental Cotacachi-Cayapas Reserve. A logging company has offered to sell its properties to Fundación de Conservación Jocotoco, which will secure the lowland forest patch for conservation. Expanding our current work in the Chocó would strengthen the security of the reserve and Rainforest Trust’s history of investment in this area. By blocking development in the buffer area, our partner can ensure that this part of the Reserve remains remote and shielded from development efforts. In addition to the land purchase, the partner is seeking to register Canandé Reserve in the National System of Protected Areas.

Photo: Chocó Cloud Forest. Photo by Alejandro Arteaga.

Fast Facts

Location:
Ecuador

Size/Acres:
7,966 acres

Key Species:
Brown-headed Spider Monkey (CR), Magnolia canandeana (CR), Chucharillo (CR), Banded Ground-cuckoo (EN), Baudo Guan (EN), Ecuadendron acosta-solisianum (EN), Great Green Macaw (EN)

Habitat:
Chocó forest

Threats:
Logging, road development

Action:
Purchase

Local Partner:
Fundación de Conservación Jocotoco

Financial Need:
$3,658,740

Price per Acre:
$459.29

Metric Tons Carbon Storage:
1,590,000

Biodiversity

The Canandé Reserve and neighboring properties are situated in a critical biodiversity hotspot. This area within the Chocó Endemic Bird Area (EBA) as identified by BirdLife International as harboring one of the highest numbers of restricted-range bird species (62) in the world.

It is also part of the Verde-Ónzole-Cayapas-Canandé Important Bird Area (IBA). The Canandé Reserve harbors at least 14 globally Threatened amphibian and bird species, many of which are endemic to the Chocó. Specifically, this project site protects the Critically Endangered Brown-headed Spider Monkey, whose population is in continuous decline due to increasing habitat loss, and two Critically Endangered magnolia species that are being excessively logged.  

Photo: Critically Endangered Brown-headed Spider Monkeys. Photo by Michael Moens.
 

Challenges

The Ecuadorean Chocó still lacks effective governance, with forests being cleared rapidly despite low economic yield in timber products.

Large-scale logging companies are able to exploit weak governance. Road development projects promote colonization of the area with immigrants who have limited knowledge of agroeconomies. They typically over-exploit the areas in which they settle, leading to diminishing revenues over time. Once the soil is depleted, colonization and forest clearance spreads to other areas of intact forest.  

Photo: The Canandé Reserve. Photo by Fundación de Conservación Jocotoco.
 

Communities

The Chachi indigenous community lies north of Canandé Reserve, whereas communities in Canandé consist of settlers who came to the area 20-30 years ago and do not have a historic connection to the land.

Few local landowners actually live on their land; most are in nearby villages, with some living relatively far away. Many property owners are willing to sell their lands because remote properties without road access are not profitable. The partner’s community relationships are excellent in the area of Tesoro Escondido due to their long-term presence and strong relationship with Verdecanandé.  

Photo: The Endangered Banded Ground-cuckoo. Photo by Morray Cooper.
 

Solutions

Rainforest Trust and local partner Fundación de Conservación Jocotoco seek $3,658,740 to support Canandé Reserve’s 7,966-acre expansion and management.

The strategic purchase of 30 critical properties will close a significant gap in the conservation landscape that will prevent industrial logging in the area and establish a buffer zone adjacent to the governmental Cotacachi-Cayapas Reserve. (Photo: A drone photo of the Canandé Reserve. Photo by Fundación de Conservación Jocotoco.)