Road construction threatens Earth’s richest habitats - home to Harpy Eagle and Spectacled Bear

| 12th April 2018

Amazonian Andes, Spring Appeal 2018

Fundación Jocotoco
The wildlife conservation charity World Land Trust (WLT) is urgently raising funds to protect tropical forest in the Amazonian Andes of Ecuador, where hundreds of species are threatened by plans to build a road that would lead to habitat destruction. BRENDAN MONTAGUE reports

We have a small window of time to purchase this area and keep this vital wildlife corridor intact.

The Amazonian Andes is one of the richest habitats on Earth, where the wildlife of the Amazon basin meets the alpine species of the Andes Mountain Range. However, only an estimated 25 percent of the natural habitat in the tropical Andes remains intact.

The remaining patches of natural habitat are increasingly isolated from each other - and often only remain secure in parks or reserves under national protection - as agricultural practices intensify across the South American continent leading to the clearance of rainforests.

Maintaining the connections between these areas is vital for allowing species like the Harpy Eagle and Spectacled Bear to move between forest areas and for connecting populations of less widely ranging species, such as amphibians.

Purchased and designated

These connections are also increasingly important in the face of climate change, as intact natural corridors will allow species to move in response to changing weather patterns and habitats.

The land that lies between the nationally protected areas of the Antisana Ecological Reserve and Sumaco Galeras National Park in the Napo Province of northeast Ecuador, and Narupa Reserve is one of these critical corridors.

The 2,800 acre wildlife reserve under the management of Fundación Jocotoco, the Ecuadorian partner of the World Land Trust. However, the local government have announced plans to build a road into the forest to increase access for agriculture and development - as this land is not currently under protection.

Principal use

Road constructions are typically followed by strong and rapid deforestation, as they provide better access for legal and illegal logging, and open the land up for exploitation by mining and increased hunting, which would have a devastating impact on local wildlife.

Dr Richard Cuthbert, director of conservation at WLT, said: “Fundación Jocotoco has been in close discussion with the local government who have agreed that the road will not be developed if the area can be purchased and designated for wildlife conservation. We have a small window of time to purchase this area and keep this vital wildlife corridor intact.”

Martin Schaefer, executive director at Fundación Jocotoco, added: “The principal use of the road would be to allow access for agriculture, which would result in the destruction of the corridor between Narupa and the national protected areas used by Amazonian and Andean species.

"The reserve would be turned into an island, which at its current size of 1,200 hectares would not be able to sustain healthy populations of a large number of the species which currently live there, such as the Harpy Eagle and Military Macaw.”

This Author

Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist. This story is based on a press release from the World Land Trust. You can find more information and donate online to save the Amazonian Andes online, by phone (01986 874422) or text AMAZ18 to 70070 with a donation up to £10.

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