Javier Robayo, Executive Director of World Land Trust (WLT) partner Fundación EcoMinga, has been recognised by The Explorers Club as one of the top 50 People Changing the World. Today, we’d like to celebrate Javier’s commitment to conservation in Ecuador.
The conservationist, biologist and educator was selected for this award by The Explorers Club for his leadership in conserving threatened biodiversity hotspots in western Ecuador – and all of us at WLT are delighted that Javier is getting the recognition he deserves.
“This recognition has brought me great hope and I am honoured to have an incredible team that is able to face new challenges every day,” Javier tells us. “We believe that together we can save our cloud forests by going deeper into knowledge, into science, into biodiversity so that we can protect life.”
Javier grew up amongst the vibrant wildlife of Ecuador and his passion for protecting biodiversity led him to study Ecology at university – his first foray into the life of cloud forests. He explains that “from that moment, I decided to stay among the mountains, waterfalls and trees.”
Javier’s expertise and love for the natural world has not only protected a wealth of wildlife, but it has also led to critical scientific findings. His extensive, collaborative field work has led to the discovery of more than 10 species of orchids; a new genus containing two species of rodents; a new genus of frog; and five other species of amphibians. Knowledge is power, and in the world of conservation it is absolutely critical.
Fundación EcoMinga has been protecting Ecuador’s biodiversity hotspots for the past 17 years, after a group of concerned scientists and conservationists acted to protect habitats of important botanical interest. The non-profit organisation has since safeguarded more than 27,000 acres (10,927 hectares) of habitat in the Chocó and Tropical Andes – and WLT has been supporting them since 2007.
With Javier at the helm, EcoMinga’s contribution towards these habitats goes far deeper than what these figures can convey. The WLT partner’s Executive Director is currently inspiring the next generation of changemakers by educating young researchers about the biodiversity of the area.
In just the past two years alone, Ecominga have recorded some exciting new discoveries such as the rediscovered Mindo Glass Frog, a new genus of rat known as Pattonimus, and an incredible four new tree species.
The Explorers Club 50: Amplifying the voices of leaders from around the world
Javier was nominated by Callie Broaddus, who received the same award in 2021 as the founder of youth-led conservation group, Reserva: The Youth Land Trust.
“I am thrilled that the Explorers Club is shining a light on the important work Javier does at such a critical moment for conservation in Ecuador,” explains Callie. “Extractive industries are threatening the survival of some of the world’s most biodiverse and unique ecosystems, including areas presumed to be protected. It’s leaders like Javier who will ensure Ecuador’s youth have a livable future with clean drinking water, stable soil, and healthy ecosystems sustained by rich biodiversity.”
The Explorers Club launched “The Explorers Club 50: Fifty People Changing the World the World Needs to Know About” in 2021 to “expand the definition and reflect the great diversity of exploration” and to help amplify the voices of leaders from around the world who deserve a greater spotlight on their work.
“The protection of each and every hectare counts. I believe that science is giving us more and more arguments, and it is critical that must be translated into actions,” Javier expressed. “My hope is that each forest that we protect today will be the source of inspiration for the next generation who will have the challenge of keeping these spaces alive. Not in the distant future, but right now.
“It is time to join forces and young people are my hope to save our forests and oceans.”
We are incredibly proud of not only Javier at Fundación EcoMinga but each and every one of our conservation partners, who continue to inspire the world with their crucial work to keep habitats safe.
Each team is made up of passionate changemakers, working diligently to protect their native wildlife that they know and cherish. We are so thankful for our supporters, who allow us to fund 35 dedicated environmental organisations in some of the world’s most threatened habitats.
Inspired? Learn more about WLT partners here.