The biodiversity of the region fascinated Charles Darwin. The breadth of its geographical and biological range captured the imagination of Alexander von Humboldt. These infatuations were inspired with good reason: It is impossible to sample the wealth of biodiversity throughout Ecuador without becoming enamored of its wonders.
From sea level to its loftiest pinnacle of 20,561 feet in the Andes Mountains, Ecuador holds an incredible mix of landscapes. The Andes Mountains bisect the country. To the East lie vast Amazonian rain forests. West of the Andes are coastal lowlands that hold some of the world’s largest remnants of globally endangered tropical dry forests, home to jaguars, pumas, howler monkeys and great green macaws. Paramos (high altitude grasslands) surround the snow-capped mountains acting as giant sponges for fluctuating mountain snow melts and rains. These crystalline waters not only support wildlife such as spectacled bears, woolly tapirs, and condors, but ultimately filter down to valleys providing fresh water for households, industries and crops.
Ecuador boasts nearly twice as many bird species as the continental United States and more plant species than all North America—all packed in an area about the same size as the state of Nevada.
The Conservancy has worked in Ecuador since 1984. Over the years we have built solid partnerships with public and private sectors, NGOs, indigenous peoples and rural communities across the country to develop practices that are sustainable both for the environment and the local economy. From strengthening protected areas, to helping communities adopt sustainable livelihoods, to devising an innovative way of paying for watershed protection, the Conservancy has built a substantial track record of conservation successes.
STRATEGIES IN ACTION
Fresh Water: In Ecuador, the Conservancy’s is currently working in five water funds: Quito’s water fund (FONAG), Paute’s water fund (FONAPA), Tungurahua’s fund for paramo and poverty reduction and Regional Water Fund (FORAGUA) and the latest addition to our portfolio, Guayaquil’s water fund, which safeguards water sources for Ecuador’s largest city. Together, these funds will benefit almost 50 percent of Ecuador’s population! Water Funds engage a myriad of partners that go from large water companies, to local municipalities, to beverage companies (Coca Cola) and international aid organizations such as the Latin American Development Bank (CAF). Each year, over 3.5 million dollars are invested on activities to protect watersheds to improve water quality and quantity. More than 5.000 families have been benefited from direct actions of the funds.
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