The Chocó-Andes is now a “Model Forest”

The biogeographical region of Chocó that runs along Panama, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru is one of the most diverse in the Neotropics. It possesses 60% of the world's terrestrial biodiversity, according to the environmental organization "Proyecto Washu". The Chocó-Andean forest, located Northwest of Ecuador, was declared a "Model Forest" by the Ibero-American Model Forest Network (IAMFN) on March 9 in Puerto Rico. It encompasses an area of 124,296 hectares, with a population of approximately 18,000 inhabitants.

This zone runs along biodiversity hotspots such as the Tumbes-Chocó-Darién, extending from southern Panama to the Tumbes region of northern Peru, and the Tropical Andes, in the western foothills of the Andes. For that reason, according to the IAMFN website, it is considered to be of "high interest for the global conservation of biodiversity". This is the first forest to be considered a "Model Forest" in the country. Worldwide, there are only 28, spread over 164 countries that make up IAMFN.

In order to receive this designation, it was necessary to meet certain parameters such as: organization at local level, programs and activities, commitment to sustainability, landscape, governance, knowledge sharing, capacity building and networking. The creation in 2014 of Sustainable Use Conservation Areas (ACUS, in Spanish) by Quito’s environmental authorities and the Ministry of the Environment, which included a 17,000-hectare area, combined with the creation of an Andean Bear Corridor, contributed to the case to include Ecuador’s Chocó in the program.

According to Proyecto Washu, the Ecuadorian Chocó preserves only 2% of its original forest. Mashpi Lodge’s Nature Reserve is located right in the heart of this forest. The project, started in 2001, aims to preserve this area previously affected by deforestation, says the visionary of Mashpi Lodge, Roque Sevilla (watch video). “We were fortunate enough to acquire 1,200 hectares of forest, of which roughly 70% is primary forest”.

Beyond the five-star service offered by the lodge, there is an important scientific research component. The team of resident biologists in Mashpi study and monitor the animals, plants, and even the quality of water in the area for the conservation of the nature reserve.

The Chocó biogeographic region contains a staggering 350 species of amphibians, 235 species of mammals, 830 species of birds and 210 species of reptiles. Much of this biodiversity is concentrated in Ecuador. Mashpi’s guests can admire this myriad of species thanks to the "camera traps" that the scientific researchers have installed in order to understand the life in the forest better, and show photographs of the animals that inhabit it, but do not always come out when there are people present.

For more, see http://www.proyectowashu.org/



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