The Ecuadorian Dry Forest is one of the planet’s most endangered ecoregions, with around 1% of the original forest remaining in the Ecuadorian coastal provinces of Esmeraldas, Manabí, Guayas and El Oro.
The Fundación Pro-Bosque (Pro-Forest Foundation) has focused much of its work during the last eighteen years, on protecting and restoring this critically endangered ecosystem in the Cerro Blanco Protected Forest and adjacent areas in the Cordillera Chongón-Colonche.
As deforestation and urban expansion continue to gobble up thousands of acres of native forest in Ecuador every year, once biologically diverse landscapes are being transformed into sterile and barren landscapes, the ecological services of these once verdant landscapes destroyed.
But nature, if given a chance, has incredible recuperative properties and our experience has shown that Ecuadorian Dry Forest can be restored, if its main nemesis, forest fires, is controlled to allow natural regeneration to occur.
According to a floristic inventory carried out by the JatunSacha Foundation and National Herbarium, the Cerro Blanco Protected Forest’s 14,826 acres include more than 80 tree species. Thanks to the support of the World Land Trust of the United Kingdom, too date, the Pro-Forest Foundation has planted 353,851 native dry forest trees of 35 species in a total of 882 acres of cut-over land in Cerro Blanco. The overall survival rate of the planted trees has been between 50 and 65% and we are concerned that the drought of over a month during the current rainy season will affect the 55,000 trees that have been planted this year.
To insure a future for the Ecuadorian Dry Forest, we must work to educate and create awareness among local community members who’s grandparents still remember the forest and the huge trees once found there, memories that are slipping away.
Thanks to the support of the Rufford Small Grants for Nature Conservation, we began working in October 2010 until the present in developing and implementing a project to educate local children and adults in the following communities surrounding Cerro Blanco, Puerto Hondo, Casas Viejas and Chongon. Educational materials have been developed, including a tree guide, poster illustrating dry forest trees and a book on propagation of native dry forest trees by Michael Morgan, former Peace Corps volunteer who worked extensively to identify techniques for the propagation of native dry forest tree species. So far, 287 kids between 8 and 14 years of age have been visited, received presentations on native trees and taken part in the fun activities included in the tree guide.
With classes about to begin again in the coast, we look forward to resuming our work in the local schools with the help and support of schoolteachers and administrators as well.
ACTIVITIES WITH KIDS