© Robin Moore

From highlands to tropical forest to the world-recognized Galapagos island chain, Ecuador is a study in contrasts. Unfortunately, many of Ecuador’s ecological challenges echo those faced by countries around the world.

With an area equivalent to that of Arizona, Ecuador is the smallest of Earth’s mega-diverse countries, occupying only 0.19 percent of the world’s surface area. But it also has the highest concentration of species, and two of its national parks – Sangay and Galapagos – are UNESCO world heritage sites.

CI-Ecuador works with numerous partners on the conservation and sustainability of biodiversity at high altitudes, along the coastal plain, and at sea. The Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena and Tropical Andes “hotspots” combine reforestation, species protection and carbon sequestration to deliver multiple benefits to the region. CI projects also protect Amazonia and the Galapagos marine ecosystems.

The focus of CI-Ecuador work is strengthening protected areas management plans and creating new protected areas. In 2008 alone, four new coastal protected areas were created by Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment.

READ MORE: Learn about the successes of CI's work with the Cofán community.

The Hotspots

Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena in coastal Ecuador brings together local governments, indigenous communities, national environmental groups, and public and private institutions to manage and conserve biodiversity, improve living conditions for local communities, and make the case that slowing climate change begins here.

In partnership with CI and Die Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), the Chachi indigenous people have created a communal reserve territory in northwestern Ecuador, as part of a conservation agreement. The agreement clarifies the community’s benefit in foregoing timber revenue and compensates the Chachi through economic and social incentives, allowing for the conservation of more than 3000 hectares of humid coastal forests.

Within the Tropical Andes and Amazon Basin, CI-Ecuador works on the design and consolidation of the Abiseo Cóndor- Kutukú Conservation Corridor, with other environmental and indigenous organizations of Peru and Ecuador.

CI and partners have partnered with several indigenous communities to create governing bodies and encourage independent management of natural resources.

Marine Diversity

To conserve coastal marine regions, CI has worked with numerous groups, including neighboring governments, to complete a series of scientific studies giving more clarity to the importance of conservation in these areas, and to obtain the sustainable management of one of the most rich and diverse marine areas in the world.

CI is part of an alliance of organizations and universities collaborating to conserve and manage the Galapagos Marine Reserve and Galapagos National Park. Several species, including the Galapagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus), Galapagos petral (Pterodroma phaeopygia) and Galapagos stringweed (Bifurcaria galapagensis) are dependent on a successful marine program in Ecuador. In addition to supporting the management of the Galapagos National Park, we develop social initiatives with local organizations to promote sustainable tourism management.

People, Forests and Partners

As part of its commitment to conserving biological diversity and promoting the sustainable use of resources, CI-Ecuador also is working to strengthen and improve in-country conservation-management capacities, offering technical assistance and critical information for decision making and providing scientific and technical support for managing natural resources.

 ARTICLE: A Grand Plan: Ecuador and "Forest Partners"

Support to the national government, especially the Ministry of Environment, is very important for CI Ecuador. For example, CI-Ecuador has supported the Ministry with the design and implementation of the national Socio Bosque program, which consists of direct annual economic incentives per hectare of forest to individuals and indigenous communities who voluntarily decide to protect the native forest they own.

This way the government aims at reducing deforestation rates and greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation, as well as improving the living conditions of the poor.

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