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Lalo Loor








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Red-masked Parakeet
Lalo Loor Dry Forest
Volunteer      Environmental Education     Reforestation     Biological Surveys    
Manabí Corridor

Our Projects

Volunteer at Lalo Loor!

Volunteer helps in the tree nurseryThe Lalo Loor reserves thrives on the energy and enthusiasm of volunteers from around the world.  Our volunteers participate in trail building, reforestation, community environmental education, teaching English, producing pamphlets and other informative materials, and assisting with biological surveys and research projects.  Volunteers enjoy an excellent opportunity to learn Spanish, acquire new skills, meet interesting people, and learn about -- become part of! -- a warm and vibrant foreign culture. Do you want to pitch in, get dirty, accomplish plenty, and then relax on the beach?  Come to volunteer with us!

Community Environmental Education

Monica Gonzalez teaches plants to local schoolkidsIn 2005, we started an environmental education program for the region, with the Lalo Loor Dry Forest reserve at its center.  We provide environmental science and natural history training to local teachers, who pass their knowledge on to their students.  We're also working directly with local school groups, organizing field trips to the reserve.  The new Ecocenter will provide a venue for environmental education programs, and houses displays on terrestrial and marine ecology, conservation and culture.

Environmental Ecocenter

Construction of the new Ecocenter concluded in May 2008, and work to establish a native Ecocenter Interiorplant garden around the building is ongoing. The unique round building accents the entrance to the reserve, and offers information on dry forest ecology, marine biology, regional culture and local tourist attractions. Local handicrafts and yogurt produced on Lalo Loor's farm are sold. Displays in the center were created with the help of local highschool students. The native plant garden was designed by botanist Catherine Woodward, and recreates the natural North-South climate gradient that exists along Ecuador's Pacific coast, with plants from drier areas in the southern extreme of the garden transitioning to plants typical of moister forests occupying the northern end. Volunteers are needed to assist in planting, labeling, and caring for plants.

Reforestation Program

construction of tree nurseryThe Jatun Sacha Foundation carried out the reforestation of several hectares of pasture along the reserve entrance road with predominantly native tree species.  The objective of the reforestation is to connect the Lalo Loor Dry Forest reserve with nearby forest patches in order to expand the total area of habitat.  Species whose fruits provide food for birds and mammals, as well as useful timber species that have been over-exploited in the region are being planted.  Species targeted include the legumes Centrolobium ochroxylum ("amarillo lagarto") and Brownea sp. ("clavellín"), Clarisia racemosa ("moral bobo"), figs (genus Ficus), and the palm Attalea colenda ("palma real"). Laase Olsen from Denmark recorded data in August 2008 on the reforestation plot -- his report is available here. Volunteers are needed to assist in the reforestation effort, including seed collection, tree planting, data collection, and nursery maintenance.

Taking data on captured birdBiological Inventories

The dry tropical forest is disappearing at a rapid rate, and sadly far too little is known about this endangered habitat.  At Lalo Loor we are conducting regular surveys of birds, plants and herps to document the diversity of the reserve's primary forest.  Recent bird surveys yielded a list of more than 170 species, including many that are rare or endangered, and several substantial range extensions.  Parallel botanical inventories documented more than 20 orchid species in the reserve as well.  Next year we will extend these surveys to other forest patches in the Manabí Biological Corridor, to look for additional threatened species, and prioritize these sites for future conservation.  Our long-term goal is to better understand the distribution of plants and animals found in this exciting yet understudied region, where the northern wet forests and southern dry forests mix.

Manabí Biological Corridor

Manabí forest fragmentsThe northern portion of Manabí province is unique among Ecuadorian coastal regions in that it still retains a significant proportion of its original forest cover. This is particularly unusual given the dry forest statistics for the entire country: of the pre-settlement extent of this unique ecosystem, less than 2% of its original area remains uncut. Sad figures, but fortunately for us, the landowners and campesinos of the northern Manabí region have for years protected some of their forests while those around them were busily cutting theirs down.

The Ceiba Foundation has identified a chain of over 20 forest remnants along the Manabí coast, which form the beginnings of a biological corridor connecting the wet forests of the north to the drier forests of the south. The Lalo Loor reserve is located midway along this corridor, and marks the first in what we anticipate will be a series of reserves. Our long-term goal is to establish a continuous forested corridor all the way from Pedernales to beyond Jama, a distance of over 50 km (30 mi). Through conservation agreements with local landowners, incentivized in part through Ecuador's national Socio Bosque (Forest Partners) program, we plan to create reserves and private nature areas to protect each of the remaining forest patches, and connect them through reforestation and regeneration of the intervening landscape. The final corridor would permit movement of wildlife between what now are isolated patches of forest, and expand the amount of continuous habitat available to over 18,000 ha (45,000 acres).


Stone circle formationThe Lalo Loor reserve is situated near the heart of the famous Jama-Coaque culture of pre-Hispanic indigenous people. Their pottery, ceremonial sites and residential mounds are scattered throughout the region, which is well-known to archaeologists worldwide. There are several places to view excavated sites, and a museum is being planned. For the time being, we have a virtual museum available online, which was developed by the reserve owner.


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