Declared on June 13th, the new Bosque Seco Biosphere Reserve in southwestern Ecuador extends over 1.25 million acres of the country’s most pristine dry forest, home to one of the highest concentrations of endemic birds in South America and an important population of flagship species including the American crocodile and mantled howler monkey.
Biosphere Reserves are a significant conservation achievement because they remain under national jurisdiction but share their experience and ideas regionally and internationally within the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. Our office in Loja worked extensively with the national government and several non-governmental organizations to prepare the proposal for Bosque Seco, along with eight municipalities, farming communities, and school EcoClubs. In September 2013, after one year of work supported by NCI, the Ecuadorian government presented the proposal for the declaration of Bosque Seco, or the dry forest of Loja, as a new UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Just last Friday, on June 13th, UNESCO approved the proposal and inscribed this area as the 6th Biosphere Reserve in Ecuador. For the first time in Ecuador’s history, municipal and private reserves are considered its core conservation areas. These core areas span over 50,000 acres and include our La Ceiba, Cazaderos, and Laipuna Reserves, which we have been managing for the last decade. UNESCO’s global recognition will bring attention to these areas and promote their ongoing protection.
We also assisted in the declaration of the two million acre Cajas Biosphere Reserve in 2013, the first in Ecuador’s Western Andes, and the nearly three million acre Podocarpus-El Condor Biosphere Reserve in 2007. Both reserves are vast and diverse, covering land as well as sea surface and traversing numerous ecosystems. Now, alongside our partners, we are reinforcing good conservation practices such as watershed management, mangrove protection, and organic production methods.
We are now devising a detailed conservation plan alongside the Bosque Seco Biosphere Reserve’s 100,000 inhabitants to ensure its ongoing protection. Meanwhile, we are continuing to work with the Ecuadorian government, including the Ministry of Environment, and several conservation partners to ensure connectivity between southern Ecuador’s many reserves. Watch this short video by UNESCO to learn more about Biosphere Reserves.