Saving Ecuador’s Chocó Forest


A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity emerged for our partner Fundación Jocotoco (FJ) to safeguard the largest remaining tract of Ecuador’s once-vast Chocó forest – the home of Jaguar, Harpy Eagle, Horned Marsupial Frog and one of the most biodiverse places on the planet.

With your generous support, our ‘Saving Ecuador’s Chocó Forest’ appeal surpassed its initial £500,000 target and went on to raise £925,000.

This incredible success means that instead of purchasing and protecting 1,668 acres (675 ha) we’ve managed to support our partner in purchasing and protecting 4,843 acres (1,960 ha) of the threatened Chocó Forest.



Making a stand for the last 2%: What your donations will do

Decades of logging have razed 98% of Ecuador’s Chocó forest without many of us knowing. Now that we know about the last 2% still standing, we will ensure the devastation ends this year.

Our partner FJ has secured something extraordinary: a chance to purchase and protect a vast tract (57,000 acres) of Chocó forest from a single firm, for which they will enlist the support of WLT and other organisations.

Donations to WLT’s appeal will save at least 1,668 acres of this important forest area – an expansion of Canandé Reserve that will link it to other protected areas in the region.


Acting now to save the Chocó from an ‘extinction cliff’

The 1,668-acre section of protected forest you support will play a game-changing role in FJ’s broader plans. Your contributions will enable our partner to unlock funding support from other sources and help them secure the total 57,000 acres available. If we act now, vast swathes of forest could be safeguarded before other potential buyers – chief among them the oil palm plantation owners who have fuelled deforestation in the Chocó – make their move.

It is crucial to support FJ now, without delay, so that they can quickly seize the window before it closes. Our partner believes that an “extinction cliff” is not far off if the Chocó is allowed to fall into the wrong hands. According to their estimates, if another 1,000 km2 of forest is logged, one-third of the area’s current species would be “lost forever” – a scenario which is just a few years away, given the current deforestation rates.

The most important rainforest many have never heard of

Few forests worldwide can match the sheer life of the Ecuadorian Chocó, a place so biodiverse that a recent trip by scientists only took 45 minutes to discover a new species.

Your donations will help save a biodiversity hotspot so special 25% of its flora and 10% of its fauna are found nowhere else on Earth. An ecosystem home to as many reptile and amphibian species per acre as the Amazon.

You will be safeguarding tropical forests boasting more bird species across 100 square miles than Europe as a whole. A botanical haven with more plant species than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere.

Alone, the Canandé Reserve is home to around 375 bird species as well as 135 reptile and amphibian species – 28 of which are globally threatened – and with your support, we can extend and protect their forest home.

These extraordinary numbers are only what science has found so far – with your help, our partner FJ believes further discoveries are likely.

Harpy Eagle perched in the forest - ©MarcusVDT
Horned Marsupial Frog with young on a branch- © Brad Wilson
The miniature and the mighty: The life at stake in the last 2%

Species counts alone cannot illustrate the history-making nature of the Ecuadorian Chocó. Without its flagship species, its story is incomplete.

Canandé counts the formidable Harpy Eagle and Jaguar among its resident predators, while 160-200 of the 500 Brown-headed Spider Monkey thought to be left alive across the planet call the reserve home.

In Canandé, however, the miniature matter as much as the mighty. The reserve demonstrated its great biodiversity value in late 2018, when visiting scientists rediscovered an endangered species – the diminutive yet charismatic Horned Marsupial Frog – not seen in Ecuador for a decade before that point.

Canandé’s trove of threatened life extends to the trees that are the heart of the forest. The reserve is the only known home for two magnolia species: the critically endangered Magnolia canandeana and Magnolia dixonii.

A global movement for a Yosemite-sized, climate-safe sanctuary

“The opportunity we have in Ecuador this year really is exceptional. For our partner Fundación Jocotoco to be able to safeguard such a large area at once is crucial for Ecuador’s Chocó, a biodiversity hotspot that desperately needs it.

“Your donations will not only support this dramatic expansion of the Canandé Reserve – they will enable something much greater. The 1,668 acres you fund will be connected as part of this ambitious project to other protected areas in the region to form a 740,000-plus-acre stretch of fully contiguous protected Chocó forests – a natural haven approximately the size of North America’s Yosemite National Park.

“This project’s biodiversity value speaks for itself. By protecting such a large tract of forest from sea level to nearly 5,000 metres of altitude, our partner FJ will deliver a climate reprieve for Canandé’s endangered wildlife. As climate change raises global temperatures, these species will have a protected altitudinal corridor – they will be able to move upland as their local conditions change, whilst remaining in the safety of protected areas.”

— Charlotte Beckham, Conservation Programmes Manager at WLT

Fundación Jocotoco team at Canande reserve