A plan to create a wildlife corridor in the cloud forest of Ecuador takes into account the needs of local people as well as the forest’s threatened species.
World Land Trust (WLT) and Fundación EcoMinga (EcoMinga) are raising funds to protect a biological corridor between the national parks of Sangay and Llanganates in the Andean cloud forests of central Ecuador.
Donations to WLT’s Forests in the Sky Appeal will be used to purchase properties in the Sangay Llanganates Corridor and to protect them from the damaging impact of farming.
Lou Jost, co-founder of EcoMinga, is keen to encourage ecotourism as an environmentally friendly alternative to agriculture in the corridor, once it is secure.
“We hope that this area will provide income and alternatives for local people. Hopefully we can bring ecotourists to the area, as well as help with publicity and perhaps infrastructure, so that the local people can use these forests as their own resource,” he said.
The corridor between Sangay and Los Llanganates national parks is bisected by the Rio Verde and a major road running east west, parallel to the river. The road has been there for many decades and people have settled close to it.
At first, local people cultivated the land near the road, but over time the area under cultivation has extended up the mountains on both sides of the road.
Local farmers are growing a crop called naranjilla, a relative of the tomato, which is sold for juice in Ecuador. By using zip wires, farmers are transporting the fruit from the top to the bottom of the mountain in a matter of seconds.
The new technology makes cultivation on steep slopes more efficient, but the forests more vulnerable. Gradually, agriculture is spreading into previously inaccessible areas.
“Of course people have to live, still have to eat and there’s no intention of completely stopping the naranjilla agriculture. But if we don’t protect this sliver of forest, we will lose the connectivity and it will have big repercussions,” explains Lou.
Big Match Fortnight
During Big Match Fortnight, 1-15 October 2015, all donations made to WLT’s Forests in the Sky Appeal will be doubled thanks to match funding pledged in advance by a small group of generous donors.
More than £200,000 (including match funding) has been raised so far towards the appeal target of £500,000 and donations are still flooding in. If you haven’t already donated, please give generously.