RI 21 ECUADOR
Following mountain Tapirs through a surreal scenery in Cabeceras Cofanes-Chingual would take you from highland grasslands (páramos), mystical cloud forest, all the way to the Amazon lowlands. This proposed conservation effort protects the last intact altitudinal gradient from 650m-4100m, creating a corridor of over 550.000 hectares connecting the Reserva Ecologica Cayambe-Coca with ancestral Cofán land, and protecting water resources for humans and the diverse forest.
Streams here feed the Aguarico-Napo River system, important to western Amazonia. The Cofanes and Chingual rivers forming the Aguarico, are some of the last unfragmented mountain rivers in Ecuador, crucial habitat for aquatic biota, and forests modulating and filtrating water for human use. Altitude variation allows diversity and species specialization where tapirs, bears, macaws and other species roam for food and can migrate in response to climate change.
Human history in the area spans thousands of years and has left a strong imprint on the environment. Quick deforestation, unsustainable mining and agricultural practices are risking wilderness and humans. Local residents from—Sucumbíos, Carchi, and Imbabura—joined forces to protect this spectacular landscape.
Photo by Álvaro del Campo