Joining together the national parks of Llanganates and Sangay by creating a protected corridor in the eastern Andes of central Ecuador has been a shared vision for World Land Trust (WLT) and Fundación EcoMinga since their conservation partnership formed in 2007.
Against this background, recent reports that properties between the two parks have come on the market is exciting news.
The news is also challenging: time is short and WLT urgently needs £500,000 to save these properties, which are adjacent to the southern border of Llanganates National Park.
On announcing WLT’s major appeal for 2015, Chief Executive John Burton said: “World Land Trust wholeheartedly supports efforts to create a secure wildlife corridor between the national parks of Llanganates and Sangay. It’s an ambitious target but we are aiming to raise £500,000 to purchase and protect properties in the Forests in the Sky Corridor during Big Match Fortnight in October.”
Steve Backshall champions the appeal
In launching Forests in the Sky, WLT also announced that television presenter and conservationist Steve Backshall is championing the appeal.
In support of the appeal Steve said: “I love Ecuador. I love the rainforest and its creatures great and small. To me it is just as important to save poisonous frogs and discover tiny new orchids as it is to save large mammals such as Spectacled Bears. Each is unique and important and this latest WLT project has them all, just waiting to be saved.”
Of Big Match Fortnight, he said: “This is a great opportunity to make your donation go twice as far and I hope that together we can save the Forests in the Sky Corridor.”
Big Match Fortnight runs from 1-15 October 2015. During the fortnight all donations to the Forests in the Sky Appeal will be doubled thanks to match funding pledged in advance by a small group of generous donors.
Species new to science
Llanganates Sangay Corridor lies in the transition zone between the Andes and the Amazon in the province of Tungurahua, Ecuador. The corridor contains a unique diversity of endemic orchids and other endangered species.
“I am so thrilled that WLT agrees that this is an exceptional opportunity to extend EcoMinga’s network of reserves in Llanganates Sangay Corridor. Thanks to WLT’s Big Match Fortnight and the generosity of WLT’s donors, saving the Forests in the Sky Corridor is now a real possibility. And I am confident that species new to science will be discovered once the properties have been purchased and protected,” said Lou.
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.
Birds in the area include a full range of eastern Andean species including Black-and-chestnut Eagle (Spitzaetus 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, some waiting to be discovered in this little explored wilderness.
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.
Llanganates Sangay Biological Corridor
Since 2007 WLT has worked in partnership with Fundación EcoMinga to create and then gradually expand Cerro Candelaria and Naturetrek Reserves, as a step towards protecting the Llanganates Sangay Corridor.
Lou Jost, Founder of Fundación EcoMinga
Despite its official title (Llanganates Sangay Biological Corridor), and the fact that BirdLife International has identified the corridor an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area, the corridor has no physical protection apart from that provided by EcoMinga’s Cerro Candelaria and Naturetrek Reserves in the south west corner of the corridor and Rio Zunac Reserve on the northern border of the corridor.
As Lou explains: “Protecting Llanganates Sangay Corridor has been the dream of many Ecuadorian biologists since 2002, when it was officially declared by the local municipalities (though without any funding or legal protection).” If WLT’s Big Match Fortnight successfully raises £500,000, there is a real prospect of that dream becoming reality.