Los Cedros Reserve


The Los Cedros Reserve contains 4,800 hectares of cloud forest with exceptional levels of biodiversity. It forms a buffer zone to the south of the 182,000 hectare Cotacachi-Cayapas National Park and is part of the Tropical Andes and Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena biodiversity hotspots, some of the most biologically diverse and endemic habitats on Earth. It also safeguards the headwaters of four important watersheds. Los Cedros is home to over 200 species at high risk of extinction, as well as several classified as critically endangered. Notable examples include the critically endangered brown-headed spider monkey (photo below), spectacled bear, six cat species including jaguar and puma, more than 358 species of birds, and the endangered Los Cedros rainfrog (photo below). Even the plants are exceptional, with 299 species of tree per hectare of forest and 187 species of orchids identified to date.

But the reserve is under imminent threat, with less than 4% of the original primary forest of western Ecuador still standing and rapid deforestation happening around the reserve. Funding from biodiversity credits will be used to train forest wardens and parabiologists from amongst the local communities, as well as secure the future of the reserve staff and infrastructure. It will also help to develop a research and ecotourism programme to provide sustainable income streams for local stakeholders, as well as being co-invested into local farms to improve sustainable practices. Los Cedros recently won a legal case to ban mining within the reserve, gaining global attention and setting an important precedent nationally and internationally. However, it has also cost the local communities an important income stream, making this project of particular importance in continuing to showcase Los Cedros and its incredible biodiversity whilst providing a sustainable future to the people who call the area home.

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