Maquipucuna Reserve: Conservation and Community
Rebeca Justcia and Rodrigo Ontaneda, environmental and social entrepreneurs, decided to take action against the damage that deforestation and human interaction was causing to the environment of Ecuador. Together they decided to create the Fundacion Maquipucuna in the year 1987, and by the next year they were recognized by the government as a non-profit nature conservation organization. They went on to break ground in many ways, one of which is the fact that they bought the ground that the Maquipucuna Reserve is situated on. The foundation has also had an important impact on local communities.
Besides creating the reserve to conserve the environment, Justicia and Ontaneda have managed to incorporate the community in eco-tourism and sustainable projects. They have also received local and international awards for their efforts. With their help, in 1992 the Choco Andean Corridor was established, endorsed by the Institute of Ecology of the University of Georgia, making it the first protected corridor in the country.
The Maquipucuna Reserve is located a mere fifty miles outside of Quito and covers an area of fourteen thousand acres, which is located between 2950 and 8800 feet above sea level. The reserve is extremely diverse in regard to plant species, birds and animal species, and the rare spectacled bear is seen within the reserve during certain months of the year. One of the biggest threats to the reserve is poaching and the deforestation taking place in surrounding areas.
To promote conservation, while assisting the communities, over and above employment at the reserve’s lodges, the project has been educating the locals on how to create sustainable livings while conserving nature, creating conservation networks, developing educational programs and aiding in establishing incomes for all through eco-tourism, growing native bamboo and growing cacao and organic coffee in fields that are bird friendly. Establishing these infrastructures and including the local community in their efforts to save the environment has proven to be successful. Visitors to the Maquipucuna Reserve will not only be able to view magnificent wildlife and enjoy the tranquility of this conservation area, but they will also be aiding the communities that are committed to the Maquipucuna Foundation and its objectives.