World Land Trust (WLT) has launched an urgent appeal to raise funds for the permanent protection of tropical forest in the Amazonian Andes of Ecuador, where hundreds of species are threatened by plans to build a road which would lead to habitat destruction.
The Amazonian Andes is one of the richest habitats on Earth, where the wildlife of the Amazon basin meets the alpine species of the Andes Mountain Range. However, only an estimated 25 per cent of the natural habitat in the tropical Andes remains intact.
WLT have been working with Ecuadorian partner Fundación Jocotoco to protect these forests for almost 20 years. The Amazonian Andes appeal needs to raise at least £165,000 to protect 400 acres of tropical forest in the area between Fundación Jocotoco’s existing Narupa Reserve and two national protected areas, Antisana Ecological Reserve and Sumaco Galeras National Park in the Napo Province of northeast Ecuador.
Urgent action needed
The local government have announced plans to build a road through this forest to increase access for agriculture and development. Road construction is typically followed by strong and rapid deforestation, as they provide better access for legal and illegal logging, and open the land up for exploitation by mining and increased hunting, which would have a devastating impact on local wildlife.
“We have a small window of time to purchase this area and keep this vital wildlife corridor intact.”
Richard Cuthbert, WLT
However, if this appeal is successful and the land is put under Fundación Jocotoco’s protection, these plans will not go ahead. Dr Richard Cuthbert, Director of Conservation at WLT, says, “Our partner in Ecuador, Fundación Jocotoco, have been in close discussion with the local government who have agreed that the road will not be developed if the area can be purchased and designated for wildlife conservation. We have a small window of time to purchase this area and keep this vital wildlife corridor intact.”
Martin Schaefer, Executive Director of Fundación Jocotoco, adds “The principal use of the road would be to allow access for agriculture, which would result in the destruction of the corridor between Narupa and the national protected areas used by Amazonian and Andean species. The reserve would be turned into an island, which at its current size of 1,200 hectares would not be able to sustain healthy populations of a large number of the species which currently live there, such as the Harpy Eagle and Military Macaw.”