Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. In fact, it is one of seventeen “megadiverse” countries, hosts approximately 10% of the world’s biodiversity, and offers two natural World Heritage sites (the Galapagos National Park and the Marine Reserve) – all of this despite its relatively small size (Ecuador is about 35 times smaller than the US). Protecting this great biodiversity as it suffers from human intervention is one of Two Rivers Reserve’s main goals.
Ecuador’s natural wealth can be explained by its geographical, atmospheric and climatic conditions. The country is located in the Neotropical realm, a terrestrial realm which developed a rich natural world during its long separation from the North American continent. Ecuador can be divided into four zones with unique features: The coastal region, the Andes highland region, the lowland Amazon region and the Galápagos Islands. Ocean, beaches, bays, mountains, volcanoes, moorlands, rainforest and rivers offer the perfect backdrop for a richness of fauna and flora. Some numbers help to demonstrate Ecuador’s biodiversity: The country hosts 16% of the world’s known bird species, 8% of all the species of amphibians on earth, over 16,000 species of plants and 4,500 species of butterfly. To compare: Arizona and Ecuador (they are about the same size) host 14 and 140 species of hummingbirds respectively. (If you would like to experience some of this beautiful natural world yourself you should check out the “Travel” section on our website!)
Two Rivers Reserve is located in the Amazon region, close to the city of Puyo. The Amazon biome encompasses the largest tropical rainforest in the world, making it home to an unfathomable number of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles. Since one in ten known species lives in the Amazon rainforest, it is called a biodiversity hot spot. The area of the Amazon rainforest located in Ecuador is just a small part of the forest as a whole, but Ecuador is home to the most diverse biosphere on earth – the Yasuni National Park. The Amazon’s role in maintaining regional and global climate functions is indisputable. Yet, it has lost at least 17% of its forest cover in the last few decades.
About 9% of the Amazon’s population is made up of Indigenous peoples. In Ecuador, the Kichwa Indigenous community is the largest Indigenous group in the rainforest region and the country at large. Two Rivers Reserve works with the local Indigenous population to promote sustainable behavior in hopes that our next generations will be able to enjoy all that the rainforest has to offer as part of a harmonious relationship between people and nature.
In Ecuador, the Ministerio del Ambiente y Agua is responsible for the administration of the Sistema Nacional de Áreas Protegidas (National System of Areas Protected). Protected areas represent about 14% of the conserved national territory. Currently, there are 59 protected areas. In Pastaza, the province where Two Rivers Reserve is located, about 13% of the land is protected. However, in order to preserve the country’s biodiversity, more land needs to be protected.
Despite a growth of documentation on the country’s biodiversity, information on Ecuador’s ecosystems is still lacking. Two Rivers Reserve engages in biodiversity monitoring and cataloguing. These are important activities which help evaluate ecosystems, their responses to disturbances and the success of conservation and recovery efforts. Unfortunately, Ecuador’s biodiversity richness is threatened by unsustainable behavior from extractive sectors such as mining, oil, logging, agriculture and industrial fisheries. Urban expansion, human migration, tourism development and introduced species add to the problem. The resulting habitat loss threatens the livelihood of many species, for example jaguars or spider monkeys. A different blog post will provide you with more information on the threats to Ecuador’s biodiversity.
“An Equatorial Treasure Trove.” Fauna & Flora International, 2020, www.fauna-flora.org/countries/ecuador.
“Ecuador – Main Details.” Convention on Biological Diversity, 2020, www.cbd.int/countries/profile/?country=ec.
“Ecuadorian Biodiversity Project.” The Biodiversity Group, 2016, https://biodiversitygroup.org/documenting-biodiversity-ecuador/.
“Inside the Amazon.” WWF, 2020, wwf.panda.org/knowledge_hub/where_we_work/amazon/about_the_amazon/.
“Sistema Nacional de Áreas Protegidas.” Ministerio del Ambiente y Agua, 2020, www.ambiente.gob.ec/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2020/04/2020_03_30-BOLETIN-FINAL.pdf.
This page is happy to have many authors! From some of the Two Rivers' staff to our lovely volunteer interns. WE hope we can see Ecuador in as many perspectives as there are trees in the Amazon.