Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Ecosystem Services in Buenaventura, Ecuador

Carrion Estate, Buenaventura

Tree planting, Carrion Estate, linking relic forest patches for the endangered El Oro Parakeet

Site location and ownership

The 1,506 ha Buenaventura Nature Reserve is located in an area of low-altitude cloud forest in south-western Ecuador and is owned and managed by Fundación Jocotoco.

Biodiversity value

The Buenaventura Nature Reserve is an example of low-altitude Andean cloud forest, a habitat that supports an extraordinary diversity of plants and animals. The reserve itself and its vicinity are home to a large number of endemic plant species that are highly vulnerable to habitat loss.

The avifauna here is one of the richest in Ecuador, with some 17 bird species of global conservation concern, facing the prospect of extinction if further habitat is destroyed.

Fundación Jocotoco established a reserve at Buenaventura in order to protect the biggest population of the El Oro Parakeet (Pyrrhura orcesii) (classified as Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species), which depends upon the site for its survival.

Family nursery, Buenaventura

Family nursery for tree planting project, Buenaventura, Ecuador

Conservation action

Since establishing the reserve in 1999, Fundación Jocotoco has instigated active conservation management and continues to purchase further forested and cleared land to expand its size with support from WLT and others. Fundación Jocotoco has also developed high-quality visitor facilities at the reserve.

The aim here is to protect, restore and expand threatened low-altitude cloud forest to support a viable population of the El Oro Parakeets, thus averting its global extinction. Action for the El Oro Parakeet also protects the habitat of another 330 bird species and a wide range of endemic and threatened plants and animals.

The WLT Ecosystem Services team is contributing to the effort through both the Carbon Balanced programme and Reforestation programmes.

Nursery seedlings, Buenaventura

Selection of native seedlings for the tree planting project Buenaventura, Ecuador

Carbon Balanced Programme

Buenaventura is the site of the WLT’s first Carbon Balanced project, established here in 2005 following the launch of the Carbon Balanced programme. It involved the purchase of a 10 ha extension to the reserve, taking it down-slope and so incorporating slightly dryer habitat supporting a distinctive avifauna.

This 10 ha plot was grazed by livestock prior to purchase, preventing re-growth of forest. Once acquired, the land was planted with native tree and shrub species which, over the 20 year project duration, will result in the sequestration of an estimated 1,420 tonnes of CO2. The progress of this emerging forest will be recorded every 5-7 years to check that the amount of CO2 accumulated in the vegetation matches initial estimates.

WLT’s Reforestation Programme

WLT contributed to the purchase of a 240 ha property strategically placed to secure a corridor used by the El Oro parakeets to reach an adjacent forest block up slope of the existing reserve. 200 ha of this corridor consisted of pasture, forming a barrier between forest blocks. This pasture would once have been forest, and has been planted with native species, including fast-growing pioneers and slower-growing mature forest trees.

Cattle grazing, Buenaventura

Cloud forest degraded through grazing pressure, Buenaventura, Ecuador

Community benefits

The nurseries established to supply trees for the reserve provide a supplementary income to local families. Further, the reforestation of slopes denuded of trees reinstates water storage, protecting water supplies to the nearby town of Piñas.

The future

Fundación Jocotoco continues to seek funding to enlarge the reserve through land purchase and tree planting. Ultimately, it is planned to expand the reserve to cover some 4,000 ha.

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