January 8, 2011 | FORAGUA, the Southern Ecuador Regional Water Trust Fund spearheaded by NCI, received close to $500,000 thanks to an agreement with the Ecuadorian National Secretariat of Water (SENAGUA). The grant is earmarked for reforestation and restoration of native vegetation on 2,500 acres critical to the protection of water resources for several regional cities including Alamor, Celica, Loja, Macara, Pindal, and Zumba. The funds are being invested in the improvement, expansion, and construction of municipal and community tree nurseries, the protection of municipal reserves, the planting of native species, and the enrichment of secondary vegetation. Additional resources are being managed by FORAGUA to expand the coverage of this program and to promote the planning and implementation of similar activities in other municipalities in the region.
FORAGUA was formed in July 2009 as a mechanism for municipal governments to fund and implement conservation and restoration of watersheds in southern Ecuador. Currently nine municipalities are part of the fund in this region with a water deficit of nearly 80%. Ordinances issued to date have created more than 86,000 acres of municipal reserves that protect water resources for human populations and preserve the unique ecosystems of the region. Among the activities undertaken by the municipalities are reforestation and natural forest regeneration, compensation for environmental services, the purchase of properties in watersheds to be dedicated to conservation, incentives for landowners to conserve and the declaration of municipal reserves.