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Ecuador - Saving Andean, Amazonian, and Dry Forest Ecosystems in one of the world's biodiversity priorities


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Forest Conservation at the Laipuna Natural Reserve

One of the best remnants of Tumbesian dry forest in the world

One of NCI's flagship projects is its Laipuna Conservation and Development Area (CDA) in southern Ecuador, which conserves 12,000 acres of endangered dry forests along the Catamayo River, in collaboration with surrounding communities. This threatened area is one of the best remnants of Tumbesian dry forest in the world, and boasts a rich level of biodiversity with many endemic species. In fact, the National System of Protected Areas of Ecuador considers it to be “the greatest area with the best conserved vegetation of dry forest in the Macará and Zapotillo Region.”

Almost 20% of the plant species in the area, in addition to 8 species of mammals and 55 bird species are endemic, or found only in this ecosystem. Thirteen species in the region are now considered endangered, and over 21 species of amphibians and reptiles have been identified, two of which are potentially still unclassified. Some mammals that can be found in the forest include pumas, river otters, deer, the collared peccary, and the sechuran fox. Unfortunately, over 95% of the region's natural forest cover has been lost, making protection of the remaining habitat of utmost priority.

NCI’s efforts at Laipuna involve both strict conservation of the forest within our 4,000 acre private reserve and work with the surrounding communities in the remainder of the 12,000 acre Laipuna CDA to promote conservation and sustainable resource use. The area includes two community management areas of the El Cardo and Numbiaranga communities (3,500 and 2,500 acres, respectively), and a state property of 2,000 acres. Our programs in the region include reforestation and forest enrichment, land-use planning, and the improvement of the skills of five communities in the handling of their natural resources around the Laipuna Natural Reserve.

Our goal in the area is to continue to work to broaden the spectacular conservation area along the Catamayo River and to continue our work with neighboring communities on conservation and resource management projects. We also plan to raise awareness about the dry forest through education, ecotourism, and our DarwinNet project. The construction of a visitor’s center within the Reserve is underway as well to allow increased scientific research, environmental education and visitation.

Learn more about our work in the Tumbesian Dry Forests of Ecuador:




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