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

In Brief

Conservation Value:

Ecuador is one of just 17 "megadiverse" countries identified by Conservation International as harboring the majority of the Earth's species. 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.


Many ecosystems are under threat in Ecuador, mainly from forest clearing for agriculture.

Actions & Results:

  • In 2011, we built a new house (6 m x 8 m in size) for a forest guard at Jorupe Reserve.
  • With support from ICFC and others a key property was acquired in 2014 to enlarge Buenaventura reserve.
  • We supported reserve management at three reserves in 2016: Buenaventura, Chakana (a.k.a. "Hacienda Antisanilla") and Yanacocha (details below in "In Depth" section).
  • With ICFC’s support, in 2017 Fundación Jocotoco planted 212,000 native trees on their Buenaventura, Rio Canandé, and Jorupe reserves. Fundación Jocotoco’s reforestation work has served as a model in Ecuador and even influenced the government of El Oro province to plant 26,000 native trees in 2016 to restore heavily deforested landscapes.

Release of a rescued Andean Condor in the Chakana reserve in 2020 (credit: Marcelo Cuichán).


Ecuador, various locations


Conservation of Ecuador's endangered birds and associated biodiversity

Project Field Partner:

Fundación Jocotoco


Cumulative cost to ICFC (2012-2017): CA$52,522 for reserve management; CA$111,099 for land acquisition

Size of Area Involved:

8750 hectares (4 reserves, out of Jocotoco's eleven)

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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 Advisor and President of Jocotoco's Board of Directors.


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 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 is lower precipitation resulting from the reduction in cloud cover due to deforestation. This causes species to migrate to wetter, higher elevations. We are therefore interested in securing higher elevation properties in expanding the reserve further.

Buenaventura is located in an area with a key concentration of endemic biodiversity. 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
Setophaga chrysoparia (golden-cheeked warbler) Endangered
Crax rubra (great curassow) Vulnerable
Setophaga 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 (4,000 ha) of páramo grasslands, wetlands and remnants of Andean forest from 3,400 to 4,500 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 three 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), puma (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 1,080 hectares of páramo grassland. This reserve, situated within 20 kilometers of Volcán Pichincha at 3,200-3,400 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

Jorupe Reserve

Fundación Jocotoco's Jorupe Reserve consists of 1,374 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.

More info on Jorupe

Actions & Results

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.

Provision of infrastructure at the Jorupe Reserve, 2011

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. The cost was US$10,000.00

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