Conservation In Ecuador
Ecuador has been recognized as a country with some of the widest ranging biodiversity in the world. This is due to the fact that Ecuador is a tropical country, and when in the tropics, organisms tend to flourish. But over the course of time, deforestation has all but eliminated their natural habitats. In the Amazon, roads once built for oil exploration paved the way for logging companies, followed by cattle ranching. Along the coast, the once plentiful mangrove forests have been removed to create artificial ponds to farm shrimp. Around 95% of the forests on the western slopes and lowlands have been converted into agricultural areas, mostly banana plantations. At this time, only a few pockets of native forest remain, mainly in private nature reserves.
Unfortunately, the environment has never found itself a proper watchdog in the Ecuadorian government. Currently there is a Department of Environmental Management within the Ministry of Agriculture, but without a strong financial backing, there is no possibility for a government-run environmental conservation program. In lieu of governmental initiative, international conservation groups have stepped in to provide the much needed expertise and economic support. This form of financial support is used to educate the population, train park rangers, and to develop alternative, low-impact practices.
There are a number of environmental non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) that operate within Ecuador, the biggest being Fundación Natura, who was the first to work toward developing a system of protected forests in the country. There are many small, grassroots organizations that have formed from the support of local communities. In the Amazon, conservation groups have aligned with indigenous organizations who, in their move to secure land rights, have also secured the future of much of the forest. These NGO’s engage local communities living in and around reserves through environmental education, agro forestry, and community development projects. It is these grassroots alliances that are imperative to the preservation of the Ecuadorian forests.
Check out the Ecuador.com forums for more information about conservation efforts in Ecuador!