Carbon Balanced Paper partner World Land Trust has raised over £1.4m to expand two protected areas in Ecuador. Discover why this South American country is so important for biodiversity and the vital work of its local organisations.
We’re delighted to announce that World Land Trust (WLT), the international conservation partner of Carbon Balanced Paper, has passed the target of its latest fundraising appeal, raising over £1.4m for the expansion of two key reserves in Ecuador.
The success of the Life of the Edge appeal has enabled WLT’s local partner partner Fundación EcoMinga to double the size of the Anzu and Zúñac reserves in Ecuador’s upper Río Pastaza region, with the aim of connecting them to a critical biological corridor, protecting a wide range of animals by saving their forest habitat from irreparable damage.
A corridor of protection
The upper Río Pastaza watershed holds a huge amount of biodiversity, with almost 100 species of plants and animals discovered there since WLT started working with Foundación EcoMinga in 2007, including entirely new species of frogs, toads, orchids and magnolias. Home to more endemic plant species than the Galapagos Islands, the area also provides essential habitat for a number of endangered species, including the Mountain Tapir, Spectacled Bear (featured above) and Black-and-chesnut Eagle.
Having been under serious threat from the oil, timber and agriculture industries, the work by WLT and Fundación EcoMinga will now safeguard this precious land to create a huge network of protected areas that stretches along the Ecuadorian Andes at nearly twice the size of Cyprus.
The Carbon Balanced Paper connection
As one of the most important countries in the world for biodiversity, with its land under some of the largest amounts of threats, Ecuador is a key area for World Land Trust, which has a number of other preservation projects across the country. As well as the upper Río Pastaza watershed, the charity is working hard to protect the Nangaritza Valley – one of the projects funded by the Carbon Balanced Paper programme
Located in the south-east of Ecuador, Nangaritza Valley provides a rich habitat for a spectacular range of animals, including rare and threatened bird and mammal species, as well as an wealth of amphibians and reptiles. The area also has some of the highest levels of plant diversity in the world, with 40% of plant species unique to the region.
In a five-year project, World Land Trust aims to purchase 1,235 acres of land to connect indigenous areas across the lower Nangaritza Valley and restore degraded habitats through reforestation. This will safeguard the habitat from landowners wanting to clear the land for cattle grazing or international mining operations being set up there.
Every hectare counts
The importance of Ecuador for biodiversity and the tireless work of the people protecting its land has been recognised by renowned scientific study organisation, The Explorers Club, who recently named their Top 50 People Changing the World list. On that list was Javier Robayo, Executive Director of WLT partner Fundación EcoMinga, who was praised for his leadership in conserving threatened biodiversity hotspots in western Ecuador.
Having led more than 200 research and teaching expeditions in his home country, Javier’s work has resulted in the discovery of more than ten species of orchids and five species of amphibians, as well as the preservation of thousands of hectares of land.
“The protection of each and every hectare counts,” he said. “My hope is that each forest that we protect today will be the source of inspiration for the next generation, who will have the challenge of keeping these spaces alive. Not in the distant future, but right now.