Preserving Foothill Rainforests in Ecuador

Established by the owners of Wildsumaco Wildlife Sanctuary, the Rio Pucuno Foundation (RPF) operates as a non-profit organization dedicated to buying and preserving foothill rainforest in Ecuador, which is facing destruction if steps are not taken as a matter of urgency to stop deforestation. Ecuador is widely acknowledged for its incredible biodiversity – which deserves to be protected for future generations and for the planet’s wellbeing. In addition to destroying the habitats of countless animals, insects and valuable flora, deforestation contributes to global climate change, an issue which is hotly debated, but nonetheless evident in weather patterns.

While lowland jungle rainforest and high-elevation rainforest has received the attention of conservationists, the foothill rainforest – defined as the area between 900m and 1500m elevation – also needs to be preserved, as it is home to many endemic species, as well as some species from both the higher and lower elevations. Wildsumaco Wildlife Sanctuary is located at this elevation in Ecuador’s eastern foothills, and is a nature lover’s paradise, particularly for the birding community.

RPF is the recipient of some grants and financial support for education and conservation and has been approved by the relevant Ecuadorian authorities. However, to make a real difference the organization is involved in fundraising and appeals for donations. The property bought by RPF is held by the non-profit foundation to ensure that the land and forest it acquires will remain in perpetuity.

In addition to buying property for conservation, the Rio Pucuno Foundation is currently working with the local community of Pacto Sumaco to assist them in developing an alternative means of making a living that will not rely on deforestation. The focus is on sustainable ecotourism and several people are training to become local bird guides, while others are employed at Wildsumaco. As the foundation expands, so will assistance to local communities.

With regard to promoting education and scientific enquiry, RPF is collaborating with two American universities and the new Wildsumaco Biological Station is the result. Here students can undertake research in a region which has not received much attention and holds the promise of new discoveries, particularly in the field of botany, entomology, mammalogy, herpetology and, of course, ornithology. As a country Ecuador is home to around 1,600 species of birds, with the area around Wildsumaco teeming with birdlife. Why not visit and see first-hand what the Rio Pucuno Foundation is trying to achieve in this spectacular region of Ecuador.