The Ceiba Foundation has been dedicated to the conservation of tropical habitats since 1997. To best implement and promote conservation action, we focus on community involvement, education, and research. We promote the empowerment of local landowners and communities and encourage them to actively participate in sustainable management of their land. For example, rather than procuring land for conservation, we work with local landowners to find ways to promote the sustainable use of their land while also providing suitable habitat for native flora and fauna. This involves collaboration with landowners to prioritize areas that are best for conservation while allocating other areas for agroforestry or crop cultivation so that landowners can use their natural resources to generate a sustainable income.
The El Pahuma Orchid Reserve and the Lalo Loor Dry Forest Reserve are examples of collaboration between the Ceiba Foundation and local landowners. Ceiba worked with the Lima family to establish South America’s second conservation easement to protect vital parts of cloud forest and establish the El Pahuma Orchid Reserve. The Lima family owns and operates the reserve which boasts over 200 species of orchids and over 150 species of birds. It is a popular tourist destination because of its proximity to Quito and provides a sustainable income for the family without damaging their forests.
The Lalo Loor Dry Forest Reserve is the result of a conservation agreement between Ceiba and Sr. Eudaldo (Lalo) Loor. Ceiba staffs and oversees operation and management of the reserve. Sr. Loor’s commitment to sustainable land management practices and habitat protection as well as his involvement in water and soil protection and regional economic growth demonstrates how environmental conservation and sustainable development are united. We are fortunate to have the Lima and Loor families as local leaders who advocate for conservation.
We also sponsor public outreach and education by providing and maintaining educational displays in the Nature Center at El Pahuma Orchid Reserve and the EcoCenter at the Lalo Loor Dry Forest Reserve. Not only do these displays provide information for visitors on the local ecosystems and natural and cultural histories of the region, they also provide a space for seminars, special events, and education programs for local school groups and communities. On the coast, we work directly with local teachers and students to integrate environmental sciences in the school curriculum. Our support for community centers and libraries is an integral part of our presence in the local communities as we hope to provide resources and training for local students interested in environmental sciences and sustainable development.
Researchers, interns, and volunteers contribute to the majority of the data that we collect for our various research and conservation projects. As we work closely with local landowners on private land, it is important to disseminate information about what we are researching and why it is important. Sharing our results and involving local communities in data collection for research projects keeps local people engaged and interested in these projects while providing training for aspiring conservation biologists. The data sets are analyzed to provide insight to the status of the flora and fauna which helps Ceiba recommend courses of action to conserve important forest habitats, protect and improve water quality, and minimize negative human impacts on native flora and fauna.