Through the joint efforts of NCI, farmers organizations and municipalities, the 183,000 acre Colambo – Yacuri Conservation and Development Area was formed in 2002. The area contains the southern extension of the mountain range that shapes Podocarpus National Park, and its shrub deserts and cloud forests are key to the preservation and continuity of the ecosystems of southern Ecuador and northern Peru.
The Conservation and Development Area is comprised of a number of natural areas, the largest being 44,500 acres of desert and cloud forest in the Espindola region. Crucially, this area is the direct source of drinking water for a nearby population of 16,000 people. A number of projects have been executed in the area by NCI including the improvement of community management of the ecosystems and the development of local productive systems such as with the toronche, a fruit native to the region.