Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Cerro Candelaria Reserve

Current size, Nov 2009: 6,793 acres (2,750 hectares)

The Cerro Candelaria Reserve aims to create a protected corridor between two existing National Parks

Cerro Candelaria

The top of the Cerro Candelaria Reserve. The reserve ranges in elevation from 1800 - 3860m. © EcoMinga

Working with Ecuadorian organisation Fundación Ecominga, the Cerro Candelaria Reserve is located in Central Ecuador in the Eastern Andes. The land purchase aims to create a protected corridor between two existing National Parks, preserving a large tract of virgin forest, which contains a unique diversity of endemic orchids.

Cerro Candelaria is

  • 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 1800m to 3860m
  • 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);

Limited infrastructure is planned for this reserve, and a basic trail now extends to all reserve elevations. 'Bird pastures' (hillsides covered with trees for nectar feeding birds and fruit eating tanagers) adjacent to the reserve have been created to attract birds and in order to show visitors the wildlife of the area.

Sobralia luerorum orchid

Sobralia luerorum - an orchid commonly found in the lower parts of Cerro Candelaria. Photo © Lou Jost/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 Platysteke species (world's smallest orchid) and new species of trees such as Blakea attenboroughii;
  • 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. 16 of these species have been found within the reserve areas, growing at elevations ranging between 3100 - 3800m.

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.

More information on Cerro Candelaria Reserve

External link: Fundación Ecominga
External link: Photos of Tenagueia orchids (From the website of botanist Lou Jost)

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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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