Solar power assists field work in Ecuador SEARCH NEWS

Lou Jost with Dr John L Clark and Lawrenceville students.

Fundación EcoMinga (EcoMinga), Ecuadorian conservation partner of World Land Trust (WLT), is benefiting from the donation of solar equipment from a group of visiting students.

At the beginning of the year, a group of high school biology students from The Lawrenceville School, Lawrenceville, NJ (USA), visited the Cerro Candelaria reserve to inventory, measure and identify native trees.

Two Solar Suitcases were donated, one for the Cerro Candelaria station and one for the Rio Zuñac station. The suitcases provide a portable and renewable source of electricity for these two remote field stations, high in the Andes of Ecuador.

“This donation is a big deal for us, as it opens up the world of field computers, GIS on site, and enhanced camera abilities, as well as the possibility of one day installing webcams,” said Lou Jost, Co-Founder of EcoMinga.

The suitcases were constructed by Lawrenceville students and were produced by We Care Solar, a North American organisation which provides portable solar equipment for philanthropic purposes in parts of the world that lack electricity.

“This donation is a big deal for us.”
Lou Jost, Co-Founder, Fundación EcoMinga

Part of the students’ classwork involved learning about alternative sources of energy. The Lawrenceville School has undertaken a sustainability mission and solar energy is something that they promote and practice locally on campus and globally through the portable solar suitcases.

Field research

The organiser and professor on the trip was renowned botanist Dr John L Clark, who guided the students in setting up a permanent quarter-hectare plot, in which every tree greater than 10 centimetres in diameter was labelled with an aluminium tag, measured, and identified.


After the plot was set up, the students made a hard multiple-day backpacking and camping expedition to the top of Cerro Candelaria, the boundary between EcoMinga’s reserves and Sangay National Park, at 3,860m elevation.

A top expert on Ecuadorian trees, Dr David Neill from Universidad Estatal Amazonica, joined to help with the identification. They discovered at least four species of plants new to science on this trip.

John and David had previously carried out a similar visit (with The University of Alabama students) in the Rio Zuñac Reserve, where they also discovered at least three plant species new to science.


On this trip at least four species of plants new to science, including members of the Gesneriaceae family. © John L Clark.

EcoMinga’s Keepers of the Wild acted as guides for the group, aiding in their research and assisting with equipment.  They also climbed the trees in the plot, when necessary, to get leaf samples for the botanists.

The rangers worked hard to get the Cerro Candelaria research station up and running in time to accommodate the students, including the addition of all-important bathroom facilities. The station itself was made possible by the kind assistance of a WLT supporter.

More information

WLT is currently working with EcoMinga to secure a biological corridor between the national parks of Sangay and Llanganates through the Forests in the Sky Appeal.

You can help protect the habitat for some of Ecuador’s most rare and threatened flora and fauna by donating to the appeal.

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