Improving forest protection in Ecuadorian Amazon
The ecological corridor between the Llanganates and Sangay National Parks will benefit from increased support for conservation efforts through a project to be undertaken by the WWF, financed from its own resources as well as from funds provided by the Interamerican Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). This project, scheduled to last 18 months, will get underway in April 2013. It will contribute to restoring the woodlands located in the degraded areas in the ecological corridor by introducing sustainable agro-forestry systems. The Ministry of Environment, through the Socio Bosque Program and the National Forest Directorate, will be a strategic partner in the various schemes for rehabilitating the targeted areas.
WWF played a crucial role in the creation of the Corridor in 2002, while the Natura Foundation (Ecuador) was instrumental in encouraging a variety of biological and social studies to be undertaken. The latter led to the corridor being identified, and to its subsequent acknowledgement internationally as a “Gift to the Earth”. The support provided by the local governments and people of Baños, Mera, Palora and Pastaza, proved to be essential in the creation of the Corridor.
The Ecological Corridor covers a total of 41.517 hectares within the territorial jurisdiction of five parishes: Río Verde and Río Negro (in the Baños canton, Tungurahua Province); Mera and La Shell (Mera canton, Pastaza Province); and Cumandá (Palora canton, Morona Santiago Province). The Corridor makes an important contribution to biodiversity given that it serves as a link between the national parks, thereby aiding the dissemination of plant and animal life between them. Valuable hydrographic resources also exist in the corridor which provide water for Andean and Amazonian people alike, as well as generating hydro-electricity and underpinning agricultural activities. Local people have taken advantage of the stunning landscapes and touristic attractions of the corridor to breathe life into the regional economy.
“It is expected that as a result of the restoration project 22.000 new plants - native forest and fruit species - will cover the degraded areas on the smallholdings of around 100 rural families, including those from the Kichwa and Shuar indian tribes. This particular forest management strategy also aims to boost environmentally responsible local production”, stated Jorge Rivas, Senior Conservation officer, WWF Ecuador.
Other beneficiaries of the project will be the Local Governments and Farmers´ Producer Groups, which will be offered a range of training programs focused on topics of importance to preserving the environmental services of the Corridor as well as generating ways of adapting to Climate Change.
The Corridor also benefits from the support provided by an inter-institutional social media site known as the “Group of Friends of the Llanganates-Sangay Ecological Corridor”. The main concern of members of this group is to apply strategies which will ensure continued recognition of the ecological corridor as a “Gift to the Earth” and as a key tool for protecting and improving the sustainable development of the región. The Group of Friends, consisting of 16 local practitioners - including local government agencies, NGOs and private institutions - is committed to preparing a strategic plan for the Ecological Corridor, to promoting sustainable economic activities and to providing support for the restoration of the degraded areas so far identified.
According to Claudio Maretti, leader of the Living Amazon Initiative “It is a positively welcome sign that so many people in positions of leadership, both men and women, continue to make their opinions known, organizing themselves, proposing solutions, demanding and undertaking a wide range of actions to secure a better future for sustainable development. It can certainly be seen that hydroelectric dams and cattle-ranching (whether productive or not), are major threats to many parts of the Amazon Region, including the Andean-Amazon river basin in Ecuador. For these reasons mobilization is urgently called for so that the interests of local communities and the natural environment are taken into proper account by governments”.