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Fundacion Ecominga Reserves

Cerro Candelaria

Cerro Candelaria Reserve is in Central Ecuador in the eastern Andes. World Land Trust (WLT) is supporting land purchases to extend the reserve so as to create a protected corridor between two existing national parks, Llanganates and Sangay.

The reserve lies within the Llanganates Sangay Corridor, a large tract of virgin forest, which contains a unique diversity of endemic orchids and other endangered species.

Cerro Candelaria Reserve is owned and managed by Fundación EcoMinga, one of WLT's four conservation partners in Ecuador.

Cerro Candelaria

The top of the Cerro Candelaria Reserve. The reserve ranges in elevation from 1,800 to 3,860 metres above sea level. © Fundación EcoMinga.


  • Situated within the transition zone between the Andes and the Amazon
  • Located within the Upper Pastaza Watershed, in the province of Tungurahua, Ecuador
  • Covers a wide range of elevations from 1,800 to 3,860 metres above sea level
  • Covered primary by cloud forest and also paramo (tropical alpine grasslands)
  • Bordering Sangay National Park and extends the protected area north (towards Los Llanganates National Park)

The reserve has infrastructure to accommodate small scale ecotourism, with a trail extending to all reserve elevations. 

Sobralia luerorum orchid

Sobralia luerorum - an orchid commonly found in the lower parts of Cerro Candelaria. Photo © Lou Jost/Fundación EcoMinga.


  • A rich centre for plant endemism;
  • A unique location for orchids, including new species of the orchid genus Teagueia
  • Home to other rare and poorly known orchid species including Platystele species (world's smallest orchid) and new species of trees such as Blakea attenboroughi
  • Home to a wide range of mammals including: Spectacled Bear, Mountain Tapir, Puma and several species of monkey
  • Home to the full range of eastern Andean birds including Black and Chestnut Eagle, Giant Antpitta, Crested and Golden-headed Quetzals, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock and both Black-billed and Gray-breasted Mountain Toucans

Teagueia Orchids

One of the most spectacular plant radiations in South America has been uncovered at Cerro Candelaria: an explosion of speciation in the Teagueia orchid genus. Originally only six species of this genus were known world wide, however 28 new species to science have been discovered on four neighbouring mountains in the Upper Pastaza Watershed. Within the reserve areas, 16 of these species have been found, growing at elevations ranging between 3,100 and 3,800 metres above sea level.

DNA analysis (from university of Florida-Gainsville, Kew Botanical Gardens and Ohio State University) shows that all these new species have evolved locally, and are not closely related to the previously known species in the genus. This species radiation is thought to be the densest and richest localised plant radiation in South America and far more dramatic than the famous plant species radiations Darwin discovered in the Galapagos Islands.

Llanganates Sangay Corridor

Every extension to Cerro Candelaria is another step towards protecting the biological corridor between the two national parks of Llanganantes and Sangay.

Llanganates Sangay Corridor map

This map shows the position of Cerro Candelaria Reserve in the Llanganates Sangay Corridor. The reserve is the large hatched area on the west side of the gap between the two national parks. © Fundación EcoMinga.

Ecosystem Services at Cerro Candelaria

WLT and Fundación EcoMinga are working together to protect standing forest and to reforest degraded agricultural land around the Cerro Candelaria Reserve. WLT’s Ecosystem Services Team has supported work at Cerro Candelaria through both its Carbon Balanced and Reforestation programmes.

More on WLT’s Carbon Balanced and Reforestation programmes in Cerro Candelaria, Ecuador »

More information on Cerro Candelaria Reserve

2014 December: Extending Cerro Candelaria Reserve gives much needed protection to rare wildlife in Ecuador »
2009 December: World’s smallest orchid discovered in World Land Trust supported reserve »
2009 June: Spectacular New Species of Tree Named in Honour of Sir David Attenborough »
2009 February: Progress in the endangered Amazon cloud forests in Ecuador »
2009 February: Discovery of rare orchids in Ecuador »
2008 July: New land purchases in Brazil (Matumbo Gap) and Ecuador (Cerro Candelaria) »

External link: Fundación EcoMinga website
External link: Photos of Tenagueia orchids (from the website of botanist Lou Jost)

« Return to Ecuador reserves

More Information on the Tropical Forest Project

To learn more about the Ecuador project visit the main project page: Help Save the Rainforests.

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