La Ceiba Reserve is in the centre of the Tumbesian region, an extraordinarily diverse dry forest habitat and one under constant threat from cattle ranching and agriculture. With less than 5 per cent of the original Tumbesian region remaining, expanding La Ceiba Reserve is an ongoing conservation priority for WLT’s partner, Nature & Culture International in Ecuador (NCI).
The region is an Endemic Bird Area and has the world’s fourth largest number of restricted range birds. It is home to 55 bird species, of which 19 are globally threatened and 45 are endemic to the region.
Among the birds at La Ceiba are two species registered as endangered by IUCN: Grey-backed Hawk (Leucopternis occidentalis) and Grey-cheeked Parakeet (Brotogeris pyrrhopterus); three registered as vulnerable: Grey-breasted Flycatcher (Lathrotriccus griseipectus), Saffron Siskin (Carduelis siemiradzkii) and Ochre-bellied Dove (Leptotila ochraceiventris), and three species registered as near threatened: Red-masked Parakeet (Aratinga erythrogenys), Guayaquil Woodpecker (Campephilus gayaquilensis) and Pale-browed Tinamou (Crypturellus transfasciatus).
In addition to being important habitat for birds, the region holds a number of near threatened mammals including Water Opossum (Chironectes minimus) and Puma (Puma concolor). Also present are two vulnerable mammals: Bush Dog (Speothos venaticus) and the Fraternal Fruit-eating Bat (Artibeus fraterculus) plus a number of other mammals characteristic of the dry forest, include Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), Tayra (Eira barbara), Neotropical Otter (Lontra longicaudis), Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni), Northern Tamandua (Tamandua mexicana) and Collared Peccary (Pecari tajacu).
The reserve is also home to amphibians including the endangered Phantasmal Poison Frog (Prostherapis tricolor) and the near threatened Chimbo Rocket Frog (Hyloxalus infraguttatus).
On the border with Peru, La Ceiba lies within the middle section of the Chira river drainage, the most important binational river system of Ecuador and Peru, west of the Andes. The reserve is at an elevation of 350–600 metres above sea level, and is dominated by mature semi-deciduous forest.
Community support for conservation
La Ceiba is owned and managed by NCI, one of WLT’s four conservation partners in Ecuador. The reserve is part of the La Ceiba Conservation and Development Area, which includes 17 communities and 370 families, the majority of whom subsist by raising goats and cattle, and by growing corn. NCI co-manages the reserve with these communities.
In La Ceiba, NCI works closely with local residents on a range of sustainable projects such as the production of honey, goat’s milk cheese and yogurt, and the harvesting of the fruit of the Palo Santo tree, which is used in cosmetics.
NCI’s grass roots approach ensures the economic well-being of local community members while simultaneously protecting the ecosystem.
NCI started working in the Tumbesian dry forests in 2000, using factors such as socio economic aspects of local communities, land tenure and biodiversity to identify potential private reserves. This process highlighted La Ceiba in south west Loja Province of Ecuador, bordering the Lancones district of Peru. The following year NCI purchased an initial 12,350 acres (5,000 hectares) to form La Ceiba Reserve and later extended the reserve to more than 23,000 acres (9,400 hectares).
WLT has been working in partnership with NCI in Ecuador since 2010. To date through the support of WLT almost 7,000 acres of forest has been protected across southern Ecuador. The purchase was completed in October 2013 and is the first time that WLT has supported land purchase in La Ceiba.
You can help NCI extend its reserves and safeguard more endangered species by donating to WLT’s Buy an Acre appeal, and specifying Ecuador in the comments box.