Our Story 2017-10-05T15:51:54+00:00


2007 – Third Millennium Alliance established the Jama-Coaque Reserve (JCR) in 2007 through the purchase of 100 acres (40 hectares) at the peak of the Pacific Equatorial Mountains. The property was located in a remote forested valley located between the coastal cities of Pedernales an Jama. This first purchase was made entirely with funds raised through a network of dedicated friends and family.
2008 –The “Bamboo House” Research & Education Center was built in 2008 and slowly began attracting young and enthusiastic volunteers. During the first year following construction we had lodging capacity for 12 people, in what we consider to be an innovative and sublimely beautiful work-site that is off-the-grid and has been built entirely by hand. Surrounding the Research Station was a small plot of previously-cleared land, which we have since developed into a sustainable agroforestry/permaculture demonstration site, with more than 50 different species of food-producing perennials.
2009 – The first formal biological research project in JCR was conducted by herpetologist Paul S. Hamilton from partner The Biodiversity Group in February of 2009. Since then, Dr. Hamilton and his team have returned to JCR multiple times, and in the process have discovered numerous new and rare species of reptiles and amphibians.
2010 – After its first humble beginnings in 2008, our volunteer program expanded to five formal two-month academic internship sessions per year. By the end of 2010, we had received 17 interns from three different countries. The interns carried out a variety of different research projects ranging from starting our species lists to creating a database of mushroom species to permaculture design.
2011 – We acquired our first infrared camera traps in 2011, which have proven to be one of our most important research tools. Soon after installing the cameras we registered our first photo of the elusive wild cat the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis). Throughout the year we continued to document other wild felines, such as jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi) and margay (Leopardus weidii). By the end of the year we had registered a total of 20 different species of mammals.
2012 – Our first resident biologist, Mike Ellis, conducted a year-long bird survey in 2012. In a single year Mike documented 227 species of bird in JCR, including 16 “A1” species (three endangered, six vulnerable, and five near-threatened), and 21 “A2” species (i.e., restricted to Endemic Bird Areas). This data suggests that the Jama-Coaque Reserve and the surrounding area together contain one of the highest harbors of globally threatened birds in Ecuador, a country that is considered to have the greatest avian diversity on earth.

The Bamboo House Research & Education Center

2013 – The Bamboo House is an active and experimental Biological Research and Agroforestry site. In addition to the ongoing research with local wildlife, we also manage a growing collection of young fruit trees that are on their way to becoming a food forest and sustainable agricultural system. Some of the practices that help maintain the site as a self-sustaining and sustainable research center include: compost, vermiculture, humanure, biol systems, greywater recycling, and a sand filtration system for conserving water. To complete the holistic and low impact nature of the station, we also utilize solar and hydro energy. The house itself is constructed primarily from native bamboo and tagua palm roofing, both of which were sustainably harvested on-site.
2014 – We hired our first new Executive Director, Ryan Lynch, who immediate got to work and received a grant for the purchase of a 76 hectare property on the North side of the Reserve. With this purchase the Jama-Coaque Reserve expanded our protection of threatened coastal forest to approximately 530 hectares (1300 acres) in size! The academic value of our internship program also began to improve in 2014 with the reorganization and structuring of our Permaculture and Biological Science programs. We began offering a full Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) course this year in JCR. Students from all over the world came to learn and practice Permaculture design in the JCR and then returned home to apply their newly gained skills and knowledge to their own personal food production zones. The PDC remains a steady aspect of our Agroecology internship and we look forward to certifying many more students in the coming years! On the science front we successfully produced our first full color field guide of the reptiles and amphibians of the Reserve with help from partner The Biodiversity Group. We hope to continue producing useful and free field guides for all types of wildlife found in the reserve over the coming years, so stay tuned for updates!
2015 – We continued to grow and increase our impact in the Jama-Coaque Reserve with new and exciting projects and land purchases. After receiving our second IUCN NL Small Purchase for Nature grant last year we increased the size of the Reserve to 530 hectares. This purchase also introduced a new funding partner to our work – SavingSpecies. SavingSpecies and IUCN NL selected our organization as one of their long-term funded projects, which ensured multiple years of funding. The focus of much of this collaborative work is the development of the Jama-Coaque Conservation Corridor between the Jama-Coaque Reserve and neighboring Reserve Bosque Seco Lalo Loor. Once complete we will have expanded the size of the protected area to more than 1,000 hectares! In addition to the funding support provided by our partner SavingSpecies, they also put us in touch with Academy Award winning documentary film maker Louis Psihoyos (of The Cove fame). Louie and his team produced another award winning documentary entitled Racing Extinction in 2015, and they elected to offset the entire carbon footprint of the film by donating to Third Millennium Alliance. Over the coming years we will be using Louie’s support to reforest 15 hectares of pasture land on JCR property. Towards the end of 2015 we initiated a brand new Agroecology program in the Jama-Coaque Reserve. The new Agroecology program is led by Nick Slobodian, who spent the entire year of 2015 in the Reserve growing our permaculture farm. The new Agroecology program will focus on broadscale landscape management projects such as reforestation, sustainable food production (coffee, cacao, plantain, etc), and an exciting Community Agroforestry Initiative with members of the local community of Camarones. These new programs are being used to produce food, income, jobs, and restore the degraded landscape surrounding the Reserve all at the same time.
2016 – In 2016 we took another big step forward with the hiring of two new program directors. Nick Slobodian and long-term TMA collaborator Mike Ellis we’re both hired to help lead our two primary research departments –Agroecology and Biological Research. Despite the April 2016 earthquake on the coast of Ecuador and the subsequent relief work we helped carry out, the addition of more enthusiastic and dedicated team members to the organization immediately paid off with both departments attracting more interest and funding during the year.  Our Agroecology department received funding support to develop a reforestation nursery on our ‘Finca’ property at the start of the year. The purpose of the nursery is to grow as much plant material on-site as possible to assist in our ongoing reforestation efforts. The new Agroecology Research Center is also home to a growing Community Agroforestry Initiative that is aimed at increasing local participation in reforestation and sustainable land management practices.  With Ornithologist Mike Ellis at the helm, our Biological Research branch also saw significant growth in 2016 with the design and implementation of new avian research projects. The new projects, that look at the population health and habitat use of a variety of bird species in JCR, became a popular and valuable branch of our internship program. During the year we had students from across the globe visit JCR to learn about field Ornithology techniques from Mike and our other experienced staff.


Conservation Land Purchases by Year

  • 2007:

    1. 38.84  hectares
    2.  48  hectares
    3. 20.15  hectares


    1. 56.84  hectares
    2.  48.25  hectares
    3. 8.9  hectares


    1. 36.16  hectares
    2. 10.01  hectares
    3. 0.65  hectares
    4. 4. 18.01  hectares


    1. 28.32  hectares


    1. 90.20  hectares


    1. 76  hectares


    1. 10.26  hectares
    2. 29.69  hectares
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