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Land acquisition for Rio Canande Reserve, Ecuador: donations matched 1:1!

The Plan:

Purchase four properties (150 hectares in total) to expand Rio Canandé Reserve, Esmeraldas Province in Northwestern Ecuador.

Why it matters:

Located within the Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena biodiversity hotspot, Río Canandé Reserve contains a staggering amount of biodiversity. The remaining lowland old growth forests of this area are being rapidly converted to oil palm plantations and securing more land is a very high conservation priority. Canande reserve harbours 110 of the 212 species of amphibians and reptiles in the Ecuadorian Chocó, 62 species of range-restricted birds, the Critically Endangered brown-headed spider monkey, and the largest population of one of the rarest endemic tree species in Ecuador. See details below.

Funds Needed (your donation will be matched!):

US$81,075, which will be matched 1:1 by an anonymous donor to Rainforest Trust, for a total of US$162,150. Contributions of any amount are helpful! Deadline: March 31, 2017.

Field Partner:

Fundación Jocotoco

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ICFC is able to apply 100% of your donation to land securement.

Canande reserve.  photo: Fundación Jocotoco The Endangered mache glass frog.  photo: Fundación Jocotoco

Conservation significance

The Rio Canandé Reserve, and the neighbouring properties, are situated within the Ecuadorian portion of the Chocó-Darién biogeographic region (the Chocó), an area which has been identified by BirdLife International as an Endemic Bird Area due its high number of Restricted-range Species (62) in the world. It is also part of the important Bird Area EC005 Verde-Ónzole-Cayapas-Canandé. When it comes to amphibians and reptiles, the Rio Canandé Reserve is the most herpeto-diverse locality west of the Andes in Ecuador, and the most diverse in the Chocó region. The Ecuadorian Chocó is home to 212 species of amphibians and reptiles, 110 of which are found within the Rio Canandé Reserve (Ortega-Andrade et al., 2010). In comparison, richer communities of amphibians and reptiles in the Neotropics are only found in the upper Amazon basin i.e., 220 in Leticia, Colombia; 185 in Santa Cecilia, Ecuador; and 271 in Yasuni National Park, Ecuador (Arteaga, 2016). Furthermore, the Ecuadorian Chocó, and in particular the Rio Canandé Reserve, are special because 10% of their species are endemics. About 22% of the species known to occur in the Rio Canandé Reserve have not been evaluated by the IUCN, although some are likely to qualify as endangered, and 20% of species have been evaluated as Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered. These include: the elusive and Endangered Mache Glassfrog (Cochranella mache), the recently described and Not Evaluated Nieto’s Rainfrog (Pristimantis nietoi), the Vulnerable Ornate Rainfrog (Pristimantis ornatissimus), and the Not Evaluated Dwarf-Gecko (Lepidoblepharis grandis). Lastly, the Rio Canandé Reserve area also harbours probably the most important population of the Critically Endangered Brown-headed Spider Monkey (Ateles fusciceps fusciceps), a subspecies of the also Critically Endangered Black-headed spider monkey (Ateles fusciceps). The Brown-headed Spider Monkey is one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world. In addition, the Rio Canandé Reserve also harbours the largest population of one of the rarest endemic tree species in Ecuador, the Critically Endangered Ecuadodendrum acosta-solisianum, which is only known from two localities.


The Ecuadorian Chocó is still a tropical forest frontier region where effective governance is often lacking with forest being cleared rapidly despite these forests being designated officially as protected areas, and a low economic yield in timber products. Deforestation has mostly resulted from the following processes/activities: explosive population growth (7-fold in south-western Ecuador within the last ~60 years; now abating), doubling of agricultural activities within the region, major increases in timber extraction, and the establishment of large-scale plantations of oil palm (Elaeis guineensis). The largest remaining forest tract in the Chocó ecoregion is within and around the 3,000 km2 large Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve—part of the Ecuadorian National System of Protected Areas—which spans an altitudinal gradient from 30-4939 m. The pressures on this ecological reserve and neighbouring properties (including the Rio Canandé Reserve), have increased in recent years due to population growth and natural resource depletion in the areas bordering the reserve boundaries.


Rio Canandé Reserve is protected through five park guards who live inside the reserve on their work days. Park guards perform reforestation, patrolling and maintain the trails and huts inside the reserve.

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ICFC is able to apply 100% of your donation to land securement.

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