Forests of Hope site - Llanganates-Sangay Ecological Corridor, Ecuador
Site name: Llanganates-Sangay Ecological Corridor
Location: Provinces of Tungurahua, Pastaza and Morona-Santiago.
Site area: 42,052 ha
Values of the site
The Llanganates-Sangay Ecological Corridor is situated between Llanganates and Sangay National Parks, in a region of extremely high biodiversity value, the Andean Cordillera Real Oriental. The corridor is ecologically essential to ensure the connection of the two parks and this mountain range is a hotspot for a number of important species. According to the 2002 management plan, 71% of the site is still forested. The predominant forest types include variations of the humid foothill and sub-tropical evergreen forests.
The site is known to be home to four globally threatened birds including: Vulnerable Ecuadorian Piedtail Phlegophilus hemileucurus, Coppery-chested Jacamar Galbula pastazae, Bicolored Antvireo Dysithamnus occidentalis and Cerulean Warbler Dendroica cerulea. It is also home to the Near Threatened Napo Sabrewing Campylopterus villaviscensio and Wattled Guan Aburria aburri. In total, 270 birds species have been recorded from the area.
The corridor is also home to 101 mammal species, 48 species of amphibian and 5 species of reptile. 195 endemic species of plants have been described from the watershed of Rio Pastaza, including 91 species of orchid.
The site is divided between a large number of different private land owners. Approximately 60% have titles for the properties, 30% have possession rights and the rest are recent colonisers. Aves y Conservación has a good relationship with local land-owners, through the work of Local Action Groups.
Finally, it is important for a number of ecosystem services. In particular, it contains an important watershed: the Pastaza River. In 2012, Aves y Conservación carried out a study of the ecosystem services of the high parts of the Llanganates National Park, which forms part of this watershed.
Key threats to the site include:
- Opening of pastures for grazing animals
- Agriculture (naranjilla, tomate de arbol and babaco)
- Land invasions
- Hydroelectric power plants
- Widening of the existing highway
- Unregulated tourism
The underlying causes of these threats include the rapid population growth, weak institutional capacity of local and regional administrations, inadequate land use planning and lack of conservation legislation at the level of the provinces.The Baños – Puyo highway facilitates access particularly to the properties on the Northern bank of the Pastaza River, contributing to advancing the agriculture frontier.
Historical conservation approach
The site was designated as an Ecological Corridor in 2002. However, this designation is not one of the official protected area categories of Ecuador, therefore, it has no legal protection status. A management plan exists for the site but has not been fully implemented yet. Since 2008, Aves y Conservación has been working at the site on the establishment and capacity building of Local Action Groups, focusing particularly on bird monitoring and eco-tourism development. The organization has implemented an ecosystem services assessment study looking at four principal services. There are various scientific institutions carrying out research in the area. Several land-owners protect their forests voluntarily covering at least 4,000 ha in the corridor.
New conservation approach
According to the management plan of the ecological corridor, the priority management objectives for the site include scientific research, species protection, maintenance of the ecosystem services, tourism, sustainable use of natural resources and maintenance of cultural and traditional values.
Aves y Conservación, in collaboration with other organizations, has developed a strategy for the site which includes the following activities:
- To work with local authorities to declare new Municipal Protected Areas
- To expand the private reserve network in the Corridor.
- To build on the results of the study currently being undertaken to identify key ecosystem services that could contribute to the conservation of the remaining forests
- To develop ecotourism initiatives involving local land owners and communities
- To help improve agricultural yields and reduce the environmental impact of production
- To promote the introduction of alternative agriculture systems (e.g. organic coffee)
- To strengthen the capacity of Local Conservation Groups on issues such as biodiversity monitoring, eco-tourism and working with the local authorities and communities to improve the protection of the Corridor
- To work with the private sector to improve environmental safeguards
- To increase local and national awareness about the importance of the ecological corridor
- To undertake further research on the site’s biodiversity.
A number of potential financial sustainability initiatives are being investigated: development of a REDD initiative, organic coffee farming, ecotourism development and payments for ecosystem services. The corridor is part of the Kuri Pishku eco-route, which is promoted by Aves y Conservación as a birding destination. The area has high tourism potential, given its proximity to the town of Baños famous for its thermal baths, and to the Llanganates and Sangay National Parks.
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