Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Ecosystem Services Project Areas

Map of project areas

The WLT Ecosystem Services projects are focused at sites within seven major regions:

 


Tumbesian Lowland Forests

Background to the region

The Tumbesian region of northern Peru and western Ecuador is comprised of lowland forest between the Pacific ocean and Andean foothills. At least 18 distinct vegetation types have been identified in this region, primarily grouped into deciduous and semi-evergreen lowland forest and arid scrub formations. The strong influence of the adjacent Pacific ocean has meant that region has remained climatically stable, fostering speciation of many restricted-range species.

The Tumbesian Region has been identified as an Endemic Bird Area (EBA) by BirdLife International owing to its concentration of restricted-range birds. BirdLife has also identified 28 Important Bird Areas in the Ecuadorian part of the Tumbesian region.

A long history of human use of the landscape has resulted in a very dramatic loss of dry forest habitat such that today just 1% of the original forest cover survives.

In spite of widespread forest habitat loss and degradation, the region retains its outstanding wildlife value. But existing forest habitat patches, surrounded by farmland, are often too small to sustain key aspects of their unique wildlife value in the long-term.

Project sites

WLT works with partners to purchase and enlarge key forest sites in the Tumbesian lowlands. Through WLT's reforestation programme, cleared areas in forests managed as nature reserves by our partners have been re-planted with locally grown native tree and shrub species.

WLT has reforestation and Carbon Balanced programmes at three sites in the Tumbesian dry forest region:

 


Andean Mountain Forests

Background to the region

The Andean region is comprised of the Andean Mountains or Cordillera, from the foothills into the true montane habitats above 1,300 metres and up to the tree-line and high altitude grasslands. The varied topography and climatic conditions have fostered evolution of numerous species that are highly specialised to particular sets of very localised conditions. This gives rise to high levels of species endemism and specialisation, two traits that make species uniquely vulnerable to changes in their habitats caused by human activities.

The inter-Andean region has a very high human population density and a long history of agricultural use. Consequently, it has suffered very severe forest loss and degradation, and species extinctions. The outer flanks of the mountains still carry extensive forest  tracts but are also under pressure.

Project sites

WLT supports partners working at the following Andean sites:

 


Wet Chocó, Ecuador

Background to the region

The wet Chocó extends from north-western Ecuador into Colombia. The prevailing climate is warm and extremely wet, with some areas receiving up to 16,000mm rainfall each year. Humid conditions foster rapid vegetation growth and here the conditions, combined with the local geology, have led to the evolution of a huge range of species with tiny distributions, making the wet Chocó one of the Earth’s most biodiverse regions.

The Chocó supports numerous restricted-range and globally-threatened birds, including the Chocó Vireo (Vireo masteri) (classified as Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species) and Scarlet-breasted Dacnis (Dacnis berlepschi) (Vulnerable).

Although less well known, the area’s amphibian, reptile and invertebrate assemblages are also globally outstanding.

Over 10% of South America’s plant species have been recorded in the Chocó and some 25% of these plants are entirely restricted to this region.

Mammals are well represented here. South America’s largest feline, the Jaguar (Panthera Onca) (Near Threatened) and primates such as the Brown headed Spider-Monkey (Ateles fusciceps) (Critically Endangered) being two high-profile examples.

Project site

 


Atlantic Rainforest

Background to the region

The Atlantic Forest stretches south from north-east Brazil into Uruguay and inland into Argentina and Paraguay. It is world-renowned for its spectacular array of species of plants and animals that occur nowhere else on Earth.

It is also well-known for the devastation of its unique forest habitats through centuries of human development. Just 7% of this ecosystem remains, making it one of the most threatened on earth.

In spite of the widespread devastation, much of the Atlantic rainforest’s unique biodiversity survives in the fragments of surviving forest scattered across the landscape.

The Atlantic Forest supports some 20,000 plant species of which 40 percent are found nowhere else on Earth. Some 950 species of bird are also found here, including numerous endemic species and many that are Critically Endangered.

Project sites

WLT supports projects at two sites within the Atlantic Forest:

 


Sierra Gorda, Mexico

Background to the region

The Sierra Gorda is situated primarily in the state of Queretaro in north-central Mexico. The area is extremely rugged with high steep mountains and deep canyons which create microenvironments ranging from dessert to tropical forest. 15 different vegetation types are present within the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, including evergreen and deciduous forest, oak forests, pine forests and cloud forests, and open, low stature plant communities rich in cacti. The area is Mexico's richest for mammal diversity with species including Jaguar, Puma, Black Bear, Neotropical Otter, Porcupine and Kinkajou.

Project site

 


North-East India

Background to the region

The north-east of India supports an assemblage of large, keystone species, including Tiger (Panthera tigris) (classified as endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species), Greater One-horned Rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) (classified as vulnerable) and Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) (classified as endangered).

Project site

 


Eastern Arc Mountains, Tanzania

Background to the region

The Eastern Arc Mountains fall within the Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot. The mountain chain extends from the Udzungwa Mountains in Tanzania in the south, to the Taita Hills in Kenya at its northern limit.

The Uluguru mountains are home to numerous endemics. Some 2000 vascular plant species have been found here, some 40% of which are locally endemic. The ancient mountain range is perhaps best known for its endemic African violets (Saintpaulia spp), the ancestor of the popular house plant.

In addition to endemic plants, the Eastern Arc Mountains supports 16 endemic mammal, 22 endemic bird, 50 endemic reptile and 33 endemic amphibian species. Forested areas are the main source of fuelwood and charcoal for local people, and heavy extraction is causing habitat degradation and loss in some areas. This problem is worsening as local populations increase.

Project area

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