Today, thanks to so many generous donors to the World Land Trust “Big Match” campaign, our ten-year-old dream of protecting a strip of forest that would connect Parque Nacional Los Llanganates to Parque Nacional Sangay is now within reach. In just two weeks World Land Trust was able to raise 280,000 pounds for us, and with this we have finally been able to build a protected corridor all the way from some of the high peaks of P. N. Los Llanganates (altitude 3400m) down to the north bank of the Rio Pastaza (alt. 1500m). There our new protected area meets our south bank reserves, the Naturetrek and Cerro Candelaria Reserves, which extend (with a few minor gaps) all the way to the high alpine grasslands of PN Sangay at 3860m. Thus the biological corridor declared long ago by the local governments is now a real thing instead of just a piece of paper.
I know that many of my friends and readers of this blog helped to make this possible. We are very grateful to all of you!!!! (And I hope some of you will come visit this land you helped protect!)
The purchase outlined in yellow includes a significant inholding in Parque Nacional Los Llanganates. Our purchase of this inholding gives greater protection to the park, which suffers from heavy abuse (including burning, ranching, and abuse of wildlife) in other inholdings. This property is especially important to me personally, since it is where I discovered my first Teagueia orchid species. The unexpected evolutionary radiation of these Teagueia orchids on this and neighboring mountains is the most remarkable thing I’ve ever found in nature. We had protected about half the members of this radiation when we purchased Cerro Candelaria. Now we have protected the other half of the radiation (curiously, there are no Teagueia species in common between the two mountains).
The main Banos-Puyo highway, which limits the possibilities for a biological corridor, here goes underground through a tunnel deep below one of our purchases (the one outlined in blue in the map at the top of this post). That piece of land was absolutely critical, and we are very lucky to have gotten it.
The protected strip we’ve bought this week is very narrow, just 200 meters wide in places. Our original Big Match goal was to also buy the extensive block of excellent cloud forest adjoining that first strip. That financial goal hasn’t been met yet. The owners are negotiating with us now, and WLT has offered to continue the “Forests in the Sky” campaign until this land is secured. When it is secured, we will not only have created a robust corridor, we’ll also have protected a unique cloud forest with many new endemic plant species!