• Conserving Ecuador's biodiversity through support of a private reserve system

In Brief

Location:

Ecuador, various locations

Goal:

Conservation of Ecuador's endangered birds and associated biodiversity

Threats:

Ecuador is one of just 17 "megadiverse" countries identified by Conservation International as harboring the majority of the Earth's species. Many ecosystems are under threat there. Fundación Jocotoco is protecting the country's rich biodiversity in the ten reserves that it owns and manages, with assistance from international partners including ICFC.

Size of Area Involved:

8750 hectares (4 reserves)

Support this project

Actions & Results:

  • With support from ICFC and others a key property was acquired in 2014 to enlarge Buenaventura reserve.
  • We are supporting reserve management at three reserves in 2016: Buenaventura, Antisanilla and Janacocha.
  • In 2011, we built a new house (6 m x 8 m in size) for a forest guard at Jorupe Reserve.

Cost:

2016 budget amount, ICFC portion: US$22,000
Cumulative cost to ICFC (past and current years): $72,600

In More Depth...

Project Partners and Personnel

Our partner Fundación Jocotoco is an Ecuadorian conservation organization founded in 1998. One of the organization's founders is Canadian David Agro, who is an ICFC Associate and Chairs Jocotoco's Board of Directors.

Background

Since 1998, Fundación Jocotoco has been a force for conservation in Ecuador, establishing private reserves that span 15,000 hectares and protect 800 species of birds, over 200 spcies of reptiles and amphibians, and large rare mammals such as spectacled bear, woolly tapir, Baird's tapir, puma and jaguar. ICFC has been partnering with Jocotoco since 2012, with support from Canadian donors.

Buenaventura Reserve

Buenaventura was established in 2000 by Fundación Jocotoco to protect the recently discovered El Oro Parakeet — one of the world's rarest parrots. The reserve is located on the west slope of the Andes in Southern Ecuador and represents the only regional protected area of the cloud forest. It is also the only protection for the parakeet: with approximately 175 individuals, Buenaventura protects half the world's known population.

Since the reserve's inception, Jocotoco has been working to expand the reserve as desirable properties become available. The a properties have been reforested with native tree species that had been cut down for cattle grazing — the main threat to the area. A second threat to the area is lower precipitation resulting from the reduction in cloud cover due to deforestation. This causes species to migrate to wetter, higher elevations. The land on offer now is at a higher elevation, hence is especially valuable.

Buenaventura is located in an area with a key concentration of endemic biodiversity (see Appendix). The reserve is the only known location for several species of plants, and the last refuge for various animal species. In addition to the El Oro Parakeet, the enigmatic El Oro Tapaculo also depends on the Buenaventura Reserve for survival as does the Ecuadorian White-fronted Capuchin. Many of these species are not otherwise protected in Ecuador's already fairly extensive national system of protected areas.

Table 1: Threatened vertebrate species found in Buenaventura Reserve, with IUCN RedList designation.

Nototriton brodiei (one of the moss salamanders)  Critically Endangered
Cryptotriton nasalis (Cortes Salamander)  Critically Endangered
Duellmanohyla soralia (Copan brook frog)  Critically Endangered
Ptychohyla hypomykter (Copan stream frog)  Critically Endangered
Agalychnis moreletii (Morelet's tree frog)  Critically Endangered
Craugastor charadra (a leaf-litter frog)  Endangered
Bolitoglossa odonnelli (O'Donnell's Salamander)  Endangered
Bolitoglossa dunni (Dunn's Mushroomtongue Salamander)  Endangered
Bromeliohyla bromeliacia (Bromeliad Treefrog)  Endangered
Oreophasis derbianus (Horned Guan)  Endangered
Dendroica chrysoparia (Golden-cheeked Warbler)  Endangered
Crax rubra (Great Curassow)  Vulnerable
Dendroica cerulea (Cerulean Warbler)  Vulnerable
Electron carinatum (Keel-billed Motmot)  Vulnerable
Craugastor xucanebi (a leaf-litter frog)  Vulnerable
Plectrohyla matudai (frog)  Vulnerable

More info on Buenaventura

Antisanilla Reserve

Antisanilla Reserve is located 50 kilometers southeast of the capital Quito and protects approximately 10.000 acres (4000 ha) of páramo grasslands, wetlands and remnants of Andean forest from 3400 to 4500 meters above sea level. This fragile ecosystem harbors many rare and endemic flora and fauna species and is an important water source for Quito and the region.

The key species at this reserve is the Andean Condor, which is an important cultural symbol for Ecuador. Cliffs within the reserve protect the largest population of Andean Condors north of Peru. Between 30 and 40 condors roost and nest here, which represents more than 50% of Ecuador's total condor population. In the last 3 years, five young fledged from nests in Antisanilla. A small cattle herd is maintained in the reserve to provide food for the condors.

The reserve is also home to large mammals such as spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus), mountain tapir (Tapirus pinchaque), mountain lion (Puma concolor), Andean fox (Pseudolopex culpaeus), and Peruvian white-tailed deer (Odocoileus peruvianus). The páramo habitat is also important for the silvery grebe and the nationally Threatened Andean ibis. The wetlands and swamps provide important habitat for both resident and migratory shorebirds and waterfowl.

More info on Antisanilla

Yanacocha Reserve

Yanacocha Reserve protects one of the larger remnants of Polylepis pauta (Rosaceae plant family) in Ecuador and 1080 hectares of páramo grassland. This reserve, situated within 20 kilometers of Volcán Pichincha at 3200-3400 metres in elevation, is an important tourist attraction and nature reserve. These ecosystems harbour the Critically Endangered Black-breasted Puffleg and 122 other bird species, including Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus), Imperial Snipe (Gallinago imperialis) and the Giant Conebill (Oreomanes fraseri). Yanacocha is also home to large mammals such as the Endangered spectacled or Andean bear (Tremarctos ornatus), puma (Puma concolor), red brocket deer (Mazama rufina), and Andean Fox (Lycalopex culpaeus). Surveys have recorded 10 amphibian and 3 reptile species.

Yanacocha is part of an Important Bird Area (Mindo and Western Slopes of the Pichincha Volcano) designated by BirdLife International. In 2005 the Puffleg was adopted as the "emblematic bird" of Quito and the reserve was declared a "patrimonio natural" of the city. This forest has provided water for Quito since pre-Columbian times and remains an important water source for northern Quito and Nono.

More info on Yanacocha

Actions & Results

Land aquisition for Buenaventura Reserve

A great opportunity arose in 2013-2014 to expand the Buenaventura Reserve by purchasing the adjacent 277-hectare Ramirez farm property for the below-market price of $200,000, of which ICFC contributed $50,000. Other funders included Rainforest Trust and American Bird Conservancy.

Over half the acquired property consists of pristine subtropical rainforest, critical for the endemic el oro parakeet and tapaculo and at the perfect elevation for the parakeet. The remainding property consists of scattered pasturelands that are being restored through natural regeneration and some tree planting.

In late 2015, a further 382 hectares were added to the reserve, this time with support from Rainforest Trust and supporters of Fundación Jocotoco. The reserve now spans 2250 hectares.

Reserve management

Buenaventura Reserve

  • Maintain cottages at the Umbrellabird Lodge
  • Improve lodgings for reserve guard
  • Maintenance of trails and installation of interpretive signs

Antisanilla reserve

Employ a forest guard to:

  • Patrol and guard the reserve to reduce the risk of hunting or human induced fires in the reserve;
  • Manage cattle and provide food for the condor;
  • Record sightings of large mammals and condors;
  • Manage maintenance and repair of trails, fences and infrastructure on the reserve;
  • Support management activities such as control of feral domestic animals;
  • Support research activities, such as the Antisanilla trap camera project.

Antisanilla reserve

Employ a forest guard to:

  • Supervise the two other forest guards at the reserve, coordinating patrols;
  • Manage tourists collection of entrance fees;
  • Monitor biodiversity on the reserve, recording species observed and making notes on mammals and birds of special interest;
  • Support restoration activities carried out on the reserve;
  • Support research activities, such as the Yanacocha camera trap project.

Completed project:

Provision of infrastructure at the Jorupe Reserve, 2011

Fundación Jocotoco's Jorupe Reserve consists of 1374 hectares (13 km2) of high quality deciduous forest in the Tumbesian region of southwest Ecuador. It supports many endemic and rare species of plants and animals, including populations of twelve globally threatened birds, such as the Henna-hooded Foliage-gleaner. This project entailed building a new house (6 m x 8 m in size) for one of the reserve's forest guards to replace the existing, unsafe living quarters.

More info on Jorupe

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