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Thanks to the coordinated effort of dozens of conservation organizations and small reserves in Ecuador, including the Ceiba Foundation and the El Pahuma Orchid Reserve, the United Nations has declared a new World Biosphere Reserve protecting some 700,000 acres stretching from the high cloud forests of the Andes to the rain forests of the northwestern Chocó region. Ceiba and numerous other organizations joined forces with dedicated local leaders to confront the national government over their decision to issue mining concessions in some of the most biodiverse forests of the country, sites that include hundreds of ecotourism destinations that generate income for thousands of local people.
After two solid years of planning, proposing, negotiating, and finally out-and-out protesting, the government gave in to the demands that the natural beauty of these lands be spared. UNESCO authorized the new reserve this summer, formally named the Chocó Andino de Pichincha Biosphere Reserve, which now joins other world-famous sites like the Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu, and Easter Island. The declaration raises global awareness of the unique beauty and diversity of the region, encourages more visitors to support local ecotourism initiatives, places added pressure on the Ecuadorian government to fulfill their conservation commitments, and solidifies an important corridor of forest that is traversed by such animals as puma, peccaries, and Andean bears.
Right in the heart of the new protected area lies the El Pahuma Orchid Reserve, Ceiba’s first conservation project. El Pahuma has served as a catalyst for many of the ecotourism destinations in the region, and the strongest proponents of the biosphere reserve emerged from these sites. Together, we are protecting incredible orchids, stunning birds, and amazing mammals like these:
You can see more of these plants and animals on Facebook, or by following us on Instagram. We are so proud of the tireless effort and collaborative spirit of all of those who joined with Ceiba to push for the new Biosphere Reserve. Come visit us and see what we’ve saved!