Atelopus wampucrum. © Jaime Garcia-Dominguez


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HECTARES FUNDED 0 (71,749 acres)

HECTARES CO-FUNDED 0 (3,484 acres)

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Straddling the equator in north-western South America, the relatively small country of Ecuador, not much larger than the UK, is one of the continent’s most biodiverse and one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world.

Divided into four distinct bioregions, Ecuador has a diverse range of ecosystems. The mountainous Andean region of Páramo grasslands and broadleaf montane forests bisects the country from north to south, reaching an elevation of 6,263 m at Mount Chimborazo. East of the Andes are the moist forests of the Amazon basin, while to the west lie the coastal region’s dry forests, flooded grasslands, mangroves, and moist forests of the endemic-rich Ecuadorian Chocó. Ecuador is also home to the Galápagos Islands—the country’s fourth bioregion—lying 965 km (600 miles) off the Pacific coast.


Situated on both the Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena and Tropical Andes Biodiversity Hotspots, Ecuador’s rich biodiversity includes over 18,000 species of vascular plants, 350 reptile species, and 669 amphibian species. An incredible 1,624 bird species—18% of the world’s species—have been recorded, including 83 globally threatened species such as the Ecuadorian Tapaculo and Jocotoco Antpitta (Endangered) and the Great Green Macaw and Blue-throated Hillstar (Critically Endangered). Ecuador’s 372 mammal species include the Spectacled Bear (Vulnerable), Mountain Tapir and Equatorial Dog-faced Bat (Endangered), and Ecuadorian White-fronted Capuchin (Critically Endangered).

Deforestation is the biggest threat to Ecuador’s biodiversity. Oil palm plantations, legal and illegal logging, and mining have cleared 98% of the Ecuadorian Chocó forest, while oil extraction and cattle ranching are the main causes in the Amazon region. Other threats include pollution from oil spills and poaching. WLT-funded projects across Ecuador are helping to safeguard Ecuador’s incredible ecosystems and threatened species.


Our partners in Ecuador

Current projects in Ecuador

Buenaventura Reserve

Established in 1999 by WLT partner Fundación Jocotoco to protect the El Oro Parakeet, the 4,450 ha (10,996-acre) Buenaventura Reserve is the only reserve to safeguard the unique cloud forest of south-western Ecuador.

Situated between 400 and 1,450 metres on the west slope of the Andes within the Tropical Andes Biodiversity Hotspot, the Buenaventura Reserve supports a wealth of wildlife. The reserve is home to 330 species of birds—34 of which are regional endemics and 15 globally threatened—including the El Oro Parakeet and Ecuadorian Tapaculo (Endangered), the latter known only from the reserve. Mammals include the successfully reintroduced Ecuadorian White-fronted Capuchin (Critically Endangered), and amphibian and reptile species include several found nowhere else on Earth.

Around 95% of western Ecuador’s forests have been cleared for agriculture. Deforestation for cattle ranching and illegal logging continues around the reserve, and mining concessions are an increasing threat. With WLT support, Fundación Jocotoco aims to purchase 450 ha (1,112 acres) to expand the reserve and strengthen its legal protection. In addition, three rangers are to be funded, and 2,200 trees will be planted on 2.5 ha to test methods before scaling up reforestation.

A view of the Buenaventura cloud forest ©Claudia Hermes
Rio Anzu
Rio Anzu

Created by WLT partner Fundación EcoMinga in 2006, the Rio Anzu Reserve is located on the east slope of the Andes in east-central Ecuador within the Tropical Andes Biodiversity Hotspot.
Situated in the Eastern Cordillera Real Montane Forests ecoregion between 1,100 and 1,200 metres, Rio Anzu protects Amazonian tropical evergreen broad-leaved forest, limestone outcrops, sinkholes, caves and subterranean waterways at the transition between the Andean foothills and the Amazon basin.

The reserve supports an incredible diversity of herpetofauna, with 72 species of amphibians and 67 species of reptiles recorded, including five new to science discovered in 2021. Mammals include Spectacled Bear (Vulnerable), Mountain Tapir (Endangered) and Jaguar, and the reserve is home to threatened birds such as Military Macaw (Vulnerable) and Black-and-Chestnut Eagle (Endangered). The rich floral diversity includes many endemics, such as Monopyle paniculata (Critically Endangered) and the recently discovered Magnolia llanganatensis (Endangered), along with species found nowhere else like Quechua glabrescens, a monotypic orchid discovered by EcoMinga.

Between 2022 and 2026 this project aims to purchase 1,173 ha (2,899 acres) of the remaining forested areas in the region, with WLT raising funds for 50% of the costs, connecting the Rio Anzu Reserve to six other reserves and the nearby Los Llanganates National Park.

Nangaritza Valley

The Nangaritza Valley in south-east Ecuador is the last remaining extensive forest corridor connecting Podocarpus National Park with the Peruvian Amazon. Established by Naturaleza y Cultura Ecuador in 2012 with WLT support, the Maycú Reserve protects 911 ha (2,250 acres) of primary and secondary moist broadleaf forest in the Cordillera del Cóndor mountain range on the eastern side of the Nangaritza Valley.

Situated within the Tropical Andes Biodiversity Hotspot, at the transition between the Andean cloud forests and the Amazon rainforest, Nangaritza’s mosaic of Amazonian lowlands, Andean foothills, and sandstone flat-topped mountains are home to astonishing biodiversity with high levels of endemism. 3,500 plant species have been recorded around Podocarpus National Park alone, along with 600 bird species, including the rare Orange-throated Tanager and White-necked Parakeet (Vulnerable); mammals such as Spectacled Bear (Vulnerable) and Jaguar, and abundant amphibian and reptile species including Kingsbury’s Rocket Frog (Endangered) and Anolis podocarpus (Vulnerable).

Deforestation in the riverine valleys from cattle ranching and gold mining is likely to accelerate due to a highway under construction. Over five years, this project aims to purchase 500 ha (1,236 acres) to expand the Maycú Reserve and reforest degraded land. The project will also support the creation of a 20,000 ha (49,421 acre) nationally recognised Shuar indigenous community reserve.

A forest view in the Nangaritza Valley
Río Zúñac

While Río Anzu faces the Amazon Basin on the eastern side of the Cordillera Abitagua, Río Zúñac is found on the western slopes of this mountain range, with Llanganates lying between the two reserves. The rugged terrain of Zúñac means its Andean foothill cloud forests are denser and less disturbed than Anzu’s.

Numerous species have been discovered at Zúñac over the years, including four frogs, two magnolias, four melastomes (a type of flowering plant) and Simpson’s Plump Toad. In 2021, a single field trip yielded five Sciodaphyllum trees new to science, including four with a home range of just 8km2 or less.

Zúñac was expanded in 2019 when supporters of the One Wild Night event, hosted by WLT Patron Steve Backshall, added 82 ha (202 acres) to the reserve. You now have the chance to add a further 500 ha (1,235.5 acres) as part of our Life on the Edge appeal, expanding and connecting habitat for threatened species like Mountain Tapir, Common Woolly Monkey and Military Macaw.


Key species protected by WLT projects


Get the latest news from our Ecuador projects