Nature and Culture International develops a national map for the protection of water resources for human consumption and food security in Ecuador.
On March 26, 2021, at a ceremony for the newly declared Huambaló La Moya Water Protection Area, Nature and Culture International presented a new map to the Ministry of Environment and Water to support the protection of water resources in Ecuador. The map identifies areas of water importance for human consumption and food security in the country.
Ecuador has sufficient water resources to ensure the supply of water to its population. However, water sources are deteriorating at a rapid pace, highlighting the urgent need for sustainable and integrated management of water resources in the country.
With funding from the Tinker Foundation, Nature and Culture developed a national planning map to identify and prioritize areas of water importance. Multi-criteria analysis using geographic information systems identified 77,842 square kilometers of high-priority areas of water resources, primarily in the Sierra (mountain region) and the central and northern Amazon of Ecuador.
To prioritize areas of water importance, Nature and Culture considered a study previously carried out by the BIOFIN Initiative. This study looked at areas of water importance that exist within Ecuador’s Municipal Conservation and Sustainable Use Areas and areas within the country’s National System of Protected Areas. According to the analysis, 55% of areas of very high water importance still need to be protected.
Additionally, Nature and Culture considered a national prioritization of 32 areas previously carried out by Ecuador’s Single Water Authority. To date, six of these areas have been established by resolution and 26 are being considered as Water Protection Areas. The Ministry of Environment and Water has invited Nature and Culture to support the establishment of ten additional Water Protection Areas in the country this year.
The new national planning map defines areas by their strategic importance as water sources for human consumption and/or to guarantee food security and the rights of nature. Ecuador’s environmental authority will use this map to shield areas of water importance from destructive activities like deforestation and mining.
By focusing on source water protection, Nature and Culture can also safeguard the incredible biological and cultural diversity found in these areas.
Declaration of Huambaló La Moya Water Protection Area
With support from Nature and Culture, the Ministry of Environment and Water recently established Huambaló La Moya Water Protection Area (Huambaló) in central Ecuador. Spanning 390 acres, Huambaló contains critical water sources that directly benefit more than 33,000 inhabitants of nearby cities, and indirectly benefit more than 80,000 people.
Marco Vinicio Martínez, Director of Administration and Quality of Water Resources at the Ministry of Environment and Water, shares that the process to protect this important area began in 2015 at the request of seven local communities. The declaration is a result of collaboration between local communities and authorities, the Ministry of Environment and Water, NGO Protos, and Nature and Culture.
Management plans for the area will include the protection and recovery of water sources by integrating conservation and sustainable development activities. Nature and Culture will support the management of Huambaló and the establishment of at least ten additional water protection areas this year!