Nangaritza Valley in south-eastern Ecuador is the last intact biological corridor between the Andean cloud forests of Podocarpus National Park to the west and the vast lowland Amazonian rainforests to the east in Peru. Nangaritza’s foothill forests have some of the highest levels of plant diversity in the world, as well as very high diversity of amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds. As well as its biodiversity the area has rich cultural values due to the Shuar indigenous territory, traditions and language.
Despite its importance, Nangaritza is threatened by deforestation (at a rate of 1-2% per year) from agricultural expansion and gold mining, with a highway under construction likely to further accelerate these threats. This five-year project will expand the Maycú Reserve through the purchase of 1,235 acres (500 ha) of land to ensure connectivity with indigenous lands across the lower Nangaritza Valley and restore degraded habitats through reforestation.
The project provides an important opportunity to complete and secure conservation objectives that WLT has been funding for over 10 years with its in-country partner Naturaleza Y Cultura Ecuador (NCE). This will be funded through the Carbon Balanced program with an expected annual climate benefit of 15,368 tCO2e.
Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests
Eastern Cordilla Real Montane Forest
Montane and lowland forest
METHOD FOR LAND PROTECTION
Land Purchase, Protected Area, Habitat Restoration and Reserve Management
A Conservation International Rapid Assessment in 2009 found new amphibian populations such as Atelopus sp. and four frog species new to science; Dendrobates sp nov., Bolitoglossa sp., Nymphargus sp and Pristimantis minimus – a minute frog which is now the smallest in its genus. The study also found more than 20 new insect species, all new to science.
Nangaritza contains spectacular biodiversity including threatened bird species such as the Orange-throated Tanager, Military Macaw and White-cheeked Parakeet, as well as mammals including the Jaguar, Spectacled Bear, Mountain Tapir and Ocelot.
Main Threats To The Area
Forests in the region have been degraded by landowners from local farming communities who clear land for cattle grazing. This has occurred in the valley bottoms and riverine areas most suited to agriculture.
These riverine areas are also a target for unregulated, illegal gold mining, as well as being the focus for national concessions for international mining operations being issued by the Ecuadorian Government.
In the absence of the project, forecasts show that deforestation rates are likely to continue to increase.
The indigenous Shuar people have lived in the Nangaritza Valley for generations, but the region has also been colonised by farming communities over this time whose main livelihood is cattle rearing. The farming community population continues to increase.
Selective timber extraction and mining also provides additional sources of income to local households. Several traditional territories important to local indigenous communities are located either wholly or partly within the Nangaritza Valley.
A number of protected indigenous reserves have been established in the region, but as the reserves are located on isolated mountaintops, the valley’s threatened riverine areas still do not have the level of protection they require.