Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Ecosystem Services in Tapichalaca, Ecuador

Valladolid Valley, Tapichalaca

The Valladolid Valley, Tapichalaca, Ecuador. Tree planting areas on pasture

Site location and ownership

The Tapichalaca Reserve is located below Cerro Tapichalaca on the eastern slope of the Andes between 2,000m and 3,400m above sea level, and is owned and managed by Fundación Jocotoco.

Biodiversity value

The 3,252 ha Tapichalaca Reserve supports wet temperate-zone forest. It was initially established to protect what was the only known site of the (then) newly discovered Jocotoco Antpitta (Grallaria ridgelyi) (classified as Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species).

The reserve is also home to other vulnerable birds, such as the Bearded Guan (Penelope barbata) (Vulnerable), Golden-plumed Parakeet (Leptosittaca branickii) (Vulnerable), Rufous-capped Thornbill (Chalcostigma ruficeps), and Masked Saltator (Saltator cinctus) (Near Threatened). A total of 13 globally threatened birds are found in the reserve. Mammals include the Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus) (Vulnerable) and Woolly Mountain Tapir (Tapirus pinchaque) (Endangered).

150 threatened plants species, thirty of which are orchids, have been recorded and surveys will likely reveal more in the coming years. A recent amphibian survey recorded 16 threatened frog species, the highest number registered in any of Fundación Jocotoco’s reserves.

The Tapichalaca Reserve sits adjacent to the Podocarpus and Colambo-Yacuir National Parks, which increases the conservation value of both by ensuring a contiguous block of forest is maintained in perpetuity.

Conservation action

As well as raising funds for land purchase by Fundación Jocotoco, the WLT is supporting work at Tapichalaca through its Carbon Balanced and reforestation programmes.

Carbon Balanced Programme

At present there is one carbon sequestration site at Tapichalaca, a 41 ha parcel in the sub-tropical montane forest at the lower edge of the reserve, purchased with Carbon Balanced funding in 2007.

Some 85% of this parcel is forested, but is situated directly adjacent to an area being cleared for cattle pasture. The remaining 15% is already pasture, which over the course of the project’s 20 year emissions accounting period will convert to forest through natural regeneration.

These actions will offset some 6,300 tonnes CO2 emissions through a combination of REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) and assisted natural regeneration.

Tree planting, Tapichalaca

Tree planting Podocarpus sprucii, a characteristic montane forest species threatened by over exploitation. © Fundación Jocotoco

WLT’s Reforestation Programme

The tree-planting work is concentrated in the sub-tropical montane forest edge in the upper Valladolid Valley, with native trees being planted on pasture on the valley flanks. The seedlings are grown in family nurseries and are all native to the area. The mix includes Podocarpus, typical of this habitat but threatened by over-cutting.

Community benefits

Family tree nurseries supply planting material and derive a valuable income from doing so. Fundación Jocotoco recently built a small house for visitors, researchers, and the reserve’s guardian Arturo Leon.

The future

The target size for the Tapichalaca Reserve is approximately 5,000 ha (12,000 acres), and the WLT will continue to support Fundación Jocotoco in its efforts to raise funds for land purchase and forest regeneration.

Tapichalaca Reserve Map

Tapichalaca reserve map

Click on image for larger map

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