In the Andean cloud forests of central Ecuador, rare and charismatic mammals like the Spectacled Bear and the Mountain Tapir make their home. Flourishing alongside them in the forests are micro orchids, some of the world’s tiniest plant species, which can only survive in the conditions particular to these locations.
UPDATE: Since the Forests in the Sky Appeal successfully reached its £500,000 target in April 2016 an opportunity arose to widen the existing corridor with the purchase of another property. Thanks to your generous support the Rio Machay reserve will now be widened, allowing threatened species to further thrive.
Although the creation of the reserve has been now been funded, long-term management of the reserve is vital, and we need your help to fund Keepers of the Wild to provide ongoing protection for Rio Machay.
Defending these extraordinary forests, and the plants and animals that rely on them, is a shared vision for World Land Trust (WLT) and its Ecuadorian partner, Fundación EcoMinga. Since 2007 the two organisations have been working together to buy land, acre by acre, to create nature reserves to secure the future of known species and those yet to be discovered.
The future of these fragile ecosystems is in our hands, and we can act together to save them today.
Following the news that a cluster of properties in the Andean cloud forest had come on the market, WLT urgently requested £500,000. The properties are close to existing reserves and are a priority for purchase and protection.
The properties lie between the national parks of Llanganates and Sangay in Eastern Ecuador. Together with the existing Fundación EcoMinga reserves of Cerro Candelaria and Naturetrek the target properties are missing links in the Forest in the Sky Corridor, which lies on the west side of the larger Llanganates Sangay Corridor.
Big Match Fortnight
To meet the £500,000 target, WLT raised funds for the Forests in the Sky Appeal during Big Match Fortnight, 1-15 October 2015. During the fortnight, all donations to the appeal were doubled thanks to match funding pledged in advance by a small group of generous donors.
Donations made during Big Match Fortnight raised £280,000. Television presenter and conservationist Steve Backshall is championing the Forests in the Sky Appeal. Of Big Match Fortnight, he said: “I am amazed by the support for the Forests in the Sky Appeal during Big Match Fortnight - what an achievement in just two weeks! But we still need to raise the balance and I’m hoping we can do this before Christmas. Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far.”
During Big Match Fortnight (1-15 October 2015), WLT supporters raised £280,000 towards the appeal target of £500,000. This was a great achievement and by April 2016 the £500,000 target had been reached thanks to the generous support of donors.
The funds raised are being used by WLT partner Fundación EcoMinga, to purchase vital properties in the eastern Andes of Ecuador. The protected areas will be collectively known as the Rio Machay Reserve, after the watershed of river that flows through the region, and provides essential habitat for a range of Ecuador’s most rare and threatened species around the Cerro Mayordomo region.
An opportunity arose to widen the existing corridor with the purchase of another property. Thanks to your generous support the Rio Machay reserve will now be widened, allowing threatened species to further thrive.
WLT will continue to raise funds for Keepers of the Wild, working to protect the entire Llanganates-Sangay Corridor.
Forests in the Sky
WLT is supporting efforts to create a secure wildlife corridor between the national parks of Llanganates and Sangay. Securing the Forests in the Sky Corridor is an important milestone on the path to protecting the wider Llanganates-Sangay Corridor.
On the map, the green areas between the national parks mark the existing reserves; the area in yellow is the property purchased by the Forests in the Sky Appeal and the red area indicates the extension to Rio Machay to take place in early 2017.
The corridor is home to a wide range of mammals including Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus), Mountain Tapir (Tapirus pinchaque), Tamandua (Tamandua tetradactyla), Margay (Leopardus wiedii), Puma (Puma concolor) and several species of monkey including an as yet undetermined species of Woolly Monkey.
Birds in the area include a full range of eastern Andean species including Black-and-chestnut Eagle (Spizaetus isidori), Giant Antpitta (Grallaria gigantea), Crested Quetzal (Pharomachrus antisianus), Golden-headed Quetzal (Pharomachrus auriceps), Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola peruvianus) and both the Black-billed Mountain Toucan (Andigena nigrirostris) and the Grey-breasted Mountain Toucan (Andigena hypoglauca).
In addition, there is a myriad of amphibians and reptiles, including a host of recently discovered species such as Pristimantis purocafeum.
This area is a centre for plant endemism and a unique location for orchids, including newly discovered species of the genus Teagueia and little known orchid species including Platystele species (world’s smallest orchid). Other remarkable flora includes trees such as Blakea attenboroughii, a tree discovered by EcoMinga in 2007 and named for WLT Patron Sir David Attenborough.
The inter-Andean region has a very high human population density and a long history of agricultural use. Consequently, it has suffered severe forest loss and degradation and species extinctions. The outer flanks of the mountains are still heavily forested but these areas face pressure from illegal logging and the unregulated spread of agriculture.
The varied topography and conditions in the area have fostered evolution of numerous species that are highly adapted to localised conditions. This gives rise to high levels of species endemism and specialisation, two traits that make species uniquely vulnerable to changes in their habitats caused by human activities.