Volunteer at Lalo Loor!
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
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.
Construction of the new Ecocenter concluded in May 2008,
and work to establish a native plant
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.
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
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
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).
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.