The Vice President of Ecuador gives local conservationists the chance to highlight the important biodiversity of Yanacocha, a wildlife reserve supported by the World Land Trust (WLT)
In January 2011 the Vice-President of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, visited the Yanacocha wildlife reserve to see the reserve for himself and find out more about the work of Fundación Jocotoco (FJ) on this reserve very close to Ecuador’s bustling capital, Quito. The Vice President was taken around the reserve where he saw an array of hummingbirds, including Swordbills and Great Sapphirewings. Fundación Jocotoco’s executive director, Zoltan Waliczky, explained about the reserve’s ornithological significance and afterwards said:
“The visit gave us the opportunity to explain to Vice-President about the importance of long-term species monitoring and he seemed very interested in the reforestation work we are doing with native trees.”
The Vice-President reassured that the government would not neglect the conservation of this area and was mindful of all the diversity that exists within Ecuador. He expressed his particular concern over Ecuador’s Polylepis forests, which are found at the reserve. This high altitude forest is disappearing at an alarming rate throughout the Andes; now considered to be an endangered habitat it is threatened by forest fires and deforestation. Scientists are keen to undertake a systematic study of Polylepis forests, as they provide vital habitats for a high number of habitat-restricted endemic species. The visit was also attended by ambassadors from the United States, Canada, Japan, Korea, Russia and Spain. This gave Zoltan and his team the opportunity to showcase the work they are doing at the reserve, including their camera trap project. The project provides feeding areas for the reserves threatened species, with automatic camera trap images enabling the team to monitor the reserve’s wildlife and behavior. The Yanacocha reserve is only 15 km from Quito, situated on the slopes of the Guagua Pichincha volcano overlooking the city and offering spectacular views over the summit of Pichincha and across to more distant volcanoes. It is a showcase reserve for the local people and a city heritage site, protecting the main watershed that supplies the fresh water to Quito’s estimated 1,400,000 inhabitants. Through WLT’s Restoration Ecology Projects, WLT are funding the reforestation of over 27 acres (11 ha) of open pasture on the reserve. The remainder of the area is degraded woodland that is now protected and being allowed to regenerate, assisted by some enrichment planting. To learn more about the Yanacocha reserve and the other areas supported by WLT’s conservation projects in Ecuador, see the WLT's project pages for Ecuador
A history of Natural Science in Quito
The famous natural scientist and geographer, Alexander von Humbolt (1769-1859), is considered to be the first person to undertake a systematic study of the Andes, leading to new discoveries in geological theory. Humboldt is responsible for the most important scientific records collected in the Ecuadorian Andes mountain region, with detailed description of it flora and fauna and its dependence on the various climates. On his exploration of South America in 1800, he stopped in Quito, taking the first geological measurements of the mountain ranges, including the Pichincha volcano where the Yanacocha reserve is now located. On his return home, he engaged some of Europe’s most established artists and scientists to help edit the notes and sketches he made during his years in the tropics. This 23 volume work, Voyage de Humboldt et Bonpland (1805-34), covers a huge spans of geographical interest, from rock formations and population analyses, to resources and trade. As a result of his explorations in South America, Humboldt described many geographical features and species that were previously unknown to Europeans. Several of these, including a woolly monkey were named in his honour.