Choco-Darien Moist Forests

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Cayambe-Coca Nature Reserve, Ecuador.
© WWF-Canon / Kevin SCHAFER

About the Area

This Global ecoregion is made up of 4 terrestrial ecoregions: Chocó-Darién moist forests; Eastern Panamanian montane forests; Magdalena-Urabá moist forests; and Western Ecuador moist forests.

Featuring some of the highest rainfall on the planet (16,000 mm annually in some places), the Chocó-Darién ecoregion has one of the world's most diverse assemblages of lowland plants and animals, with exceptional richness, uniqueness and endemism in plants, birds, reptiles and amphibians, and butterflies.

One reason for this is that the Choco forest communities were isolated from the Amazon since the Andes Mountains were formed millions of years ago. This event allowed new species to evolve over time.

This ecoregion is full of interesting and unique corners such as the "La Planada crater" in Colombia. Here, the ecosystem inside the crater is different to the one just outside because the species inside benefit from higher temperatures and protection from the wind.

Size:
187,500 sq. km (72,000 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests

Geographic Location:
Coastal lowlands of northwestern South American and eastern Panama: Panama, Colombia, Ecuador

Conservation Status:
Relatively Stable/Intact

Local Species
These forests are home to Mammals like Jaguar (Panthera onca), and Geoffroy's tamarin (Saguinus geoffroy). An estimated 8,000-9,000 species of vascular flora exists in the region with characteristic plants such as Sapa palm (Wettinia radiata) and the threatened cycads Chigua restrepoi and C. bernalii.

Ecuador moist forests are noted for some of the highest avian endemism in the world. In 1993, around 650 birds were identified in the region. The endemic birds include several endangered species, such as plumbeous forest-falcon (Micrastur plumbeus), banded ground-cuckoo (Neomorphus radiolosus), and the Baudó oropendola (Psarocolius cassini) - not recorded since 1945.

In addition, close to 100 species of reptiles have been reported.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Anthony B. RATH
Jaguar (Panthera onca), Belize.
© WWF-Canon / Anthony B. RATH

Featured species

Geoffroy's tamarin (Saguinus geoffroyi), also known as the Panamanian or rufous-naped tamarin, is a black and white tamarin with a reddish nape. It is arboreal and tends to live in areas of secondary growth or mixed forest. Natural groups vary in size from 3 to 15 individuals, which show some degree of territorial defense. There is virtually no difference in size or appearance between males and females. In captivity, they can live for up to 13 years. As with other tamarins and marmosets, males contribute heavily to parental care, and it is likely that some groups are polyandrous.

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WWF’s work
To combat the threats against the biological wealth and cultural diversity of the forests, WWF Colombia, together with other partners, designed the ‘Conservation and Sustainable Development for the Chocó Ecoregion’ project whose main objective is to support the strengthening of civil society and local communities for conservation and sustainable development processes.

To implement this project, WWF will work together with local organizations from different sectors, including NGOs, indigenous associations, and black communities throughout the Colombian and Ecuadorian corridor.

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