Nature and Culture International

NCI logo


Nature and Culture International conserves biologically diverse landscapes in Latin America, in concert with local cultures, for the well-being of the planet.



In the early 1990s, Ivan Gayler, a businessman from San Diego, California, was flying over the Amazon when he saw a web of logging roads and fires burning the lush forests. The sight brought him to tears and moved him to action.

From the beginning, he recognized that conservation needed to happen at the local level, and he partnered with local Ecuadorian conservationist and visionary, Renzo Paladines, and together they developed an ecosystem conservation project, buying land that was threatened in the cloud forests of southern Ecuador, one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet. That’s how Nature and Culture International was born.

The organization now boasts an incredible team of over 150 local conservationists, legal professionals, and mapping experts working to save critical ecosystems throughout Latin America.

Since its inception, it has been the mission of Nature and Culture to work together with local cultures to save wild places.

Partnership with WLT

World Land Trust (WLT) has been working with Nature and Culture International through local affiliates in three countries in Latin America: Naturaleza y Cultura Ecuador (NCE) since 2010, Naturaleza y Cultura Peru (NCP) since 2014 and Naturaleza y Cultura Sierra Madre in Mexico (NCSM) since 2019.

Some of the projects, we have worked together on include:

Carbon Balanced Ecuador – WLT and NCE have worked together to acquire and manage land and offset carbon emissions in the Andes and dry forest of Ecuador. These are long term projects, which will conclude in 2030.

Promoting Ecosystem Connectivity in the Southern Ecuadorian Amazon – The Nangaritza Valley in south-eastern Ecuador is the last intact biological corridor between the Andean cloud forests and the vast lowland Amazonian rainforests to the east in Peru. This project has been working to maintain this corridor through land purchase, working with local Shuar indigenous communities, restoration, monitoring, and the management of NCE’s Maycu Reserve.

Creation of Protected Areas – WLT and NCE have been working together for the creation of new protected areas including Santiago and Fierro Hurco.

Keepers of the wild program helps NCE hire and equip park guards, which supports monitoring, and protection activities.

WLT and NCP have been working together to create and expand Community reserves in the northern Andes of Peru, including, San Miguel de Tabaconas ((17,556 ha) La Jalca (26,216 ha), Chicuate-Chinguelas (27,107 ha), San Felipe (1,958 ha), Sallique (3,547 ha) y Huaricancha (5,915 ha) and San Felipe (1,958 ha). WLT has supported the community socialization processes, communications, and the necessary biological and fauna studies.

Our current project together includes strengthening the management and sustainability of the Chicuate-Chinguelas, Huaricancha, Tabaconas anda Sallique community reserves, and the expansion of the innovative Quiroz-Chira Water Fund (FAQCH), a fee-for-service sustainable financing mechanism for conservation of the Huancabamba – Chamaya and Chinchipe River Basins.

WLT and NCSM have been working with local communities to create the Pitayal Coastal State Reserve in Sonora, Mexico. The Pitayal is a unique ecosystem where columnar cactus species Stenocereus thurberi (Pitaya) exists in the highest densities found in the world yet are being deforested at an alarming rate.

A view of the Tabaconas cloud forest
Other Activities

With 12 offices, local NCI affiliates work with local actors for conservation in Peru, Ecuador and Mexico while working with local sister organizations in Colombia, Bolivia, and Brazil. NCI works with local and indigenous communities, together with authorities to legally establish and set up sustainable management practices for government, community, private and biosphere reserves, protecting more than 25.7 million acres to date.

Some of the projects that NCI is currently focused on include:

  • Building the Amazonian Platform: Bringing local governments and indigenous nationalities together to create over 11 million acres of continuous, protected forest in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The Amazonian Platform spans 3 Ecuadorian provinces– Pastaza, Morona Santiago, and Zamora Chinchipe, and creates a collaborative agreement between the governors of the Ecuadorian Amazon and Indigenous nationalities that live within these areas to protect a largely intact section of dense Amazonian Forest.
  • NCI is a pioneer in the construction and support for the implementation of REDD+ Plans at the jurisdictional level; the first experience was implemented together with the Government of Pastaza. Now, the objective is to replicate this financial sustainability model, based on the REDD+ Plan, to the other Amazon provinces.
  • Connecting the Andean Corridor: Creating a cross-border, continuous, protected corridor down the spine of the Andes Mountain range in Ecuador and Peru. Spanning 236 miles and two countries, the Andean Corridor project will protect one of the most biologically diverse places on our planet.
  • Ecuador Water Source Protection: Nature and Culture leverages local interest in preserving access to clean, abundant water to drive conservation. Ultimately this leads to the preservation of local biodiversity, nearby forests, ecosystems, and food security for local populations. In Ecuador, a Water Protection Area (WPA) is a nationally recognized, legally protected territory that conserves these precious water sources.
  • Cuenca del Mayo – Mexico. A 220-mile corridor that connects four federally protected areas, Cuenca del Mayo is an area in the northernmost region of the tropics and is one of Earth’s most unique ecosystems. NCSM is working to create a permanent contiguous habitat connecting existing Nature and Culture reserves with four federally protected areas to the northeast. In total, these connected areas will span 220 miles and 4.5 million acres. The corridor will be used by a wide range of national-level endangered species like the jaguar, migratory global endangered species like the thick-billed parrot, and endemic endangered species like the lilac crowned amazon.

Contact details:

CEO/Executive Director: Matthew Clark

Address: 1400 Maiden Lane
Del Mar, CA 92014
United States