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

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Ecosystem Research Program

High-quality research aids conservation programs and enhances rural livelihoods

Research plays an important role in the conservation of Tropical Forests. Working at the crossroads of three of the world’s most important eco-systems – the Tumbesian Dry Forest, Amazonia, and the Andean Cloud Forest – Nature and Culture has at its doorstep the most important union of species rich forests in the world. High-quality research can directly benefit conservation practice and guide sustainable development activities in ways that enhance rural livelihoods, while guaranteeing the conservation of important forest ecosystems. Research data also informs and influences policymakers whose decisions can impact forest conservation and sustainability.

Seventeen German and Ecuadorian universities conduct one of the largest ecosystem studies worldwide of tropical mountain forests in and around NCI’s San Francisco Scientific Station, financed by a project of the German Research Foundation (DFG). The station is a well outfitted, easily accessible facility which can house, feed, and provide ample work space and services for up to 35 researchers at a time. The project, established in 1997 and expanded in 2007, has been conducting a series of basic and applied research studies at the station to understand area forests and to determine management interventions promoting both conservation and development practices. These studies can help lift people out of poverty allowing them to contribute to both forest conservation and their own well-being.

To date, over 165 peer-reviewed articles resulting from the research have been published. Outside the station, additional research is being done on the Tumbesian Forest ecosystems, bird species and their conservation, and native fruits and seeds for income generation and nutrition. Social science and historical research also helps to understand how local cultures impact community behavior and local politics in regards to forest conservation.

Finally, providing solid research training to young, promising Ecuadorian professionals helps guarantee the future sustainability of research and conservation efforts since many will move into important policymaking, teaching, nonprofit, and research positions in Ecuador.

 

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