Jama-Coaque Conservation Corridor
Coastal Ecuador represents one of the most biologically important yet threatened ecosystems in all of Latin America. Located within the Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena Biodiversity Hotspot at the nexus of some of the wettest forests in the world (Chocó rainforests) and the last remaining fragments of coastal dry forests of South America, it is seen as one of the 25 most important concentrations of biodiversity on the planet. Unfortunately, recent reports estimate that approximately 98% of native forest cover on the coast of Ecuador has been lost as a result of deforestation and other human activities, making it one of the most severely threatened areas on earth in terms of biological extinction.
To curb further loses to this incredibly biodiversity-rich and threatened region, Third Millennium Alliance (TMA) established the Jama-Coaque Ecological Reserve (JCR) in 2007 with the purchase of a 40 hectare forested property in the coastal province of Manabi. The following year TMA initiated a research and education program in JCR in order to better understand the status of local species and involve youth in conservation activities. The result of these efforts strongly supported the need for conservation in the region, with the discovery of 270 bird species (16 globally threatened; including grey-cheeked parakeet), 47 reptile species (18 globally threatened; including the brown wood turtle), 28 amphibian species (5 globally threatened; 3+ species new to science; including the Ecuadorian blue glassfrog), and 18 species of mammal (2 globally threatened, including the Ecuadorian white-fronted capuchin monkey). These findings, combined with the unsustainable expansion of agriculture in the region, sparked TMA to continue the expansion of JCR year after year through 11 consecutive property purchases. Today JCR has grown to 530 hectares of tropical moist and premontane cloud forest.
The current objective of TMA and partners IUCN NL and SavingSpecies is the development of a conservation corridor between JCR and neighboring reserve Bosque Seco Lalo Loor (BSLL), which is one of the furthest North fragments of dry forest in Ecuador. The specific area along the proposed corridor is targeted because it represents one of the only forested areas in all of coastal Ecuador connecting three distinct forest types (dry forest, tropical moist forest, and premontane cloud forest) along an elevational gradient, is known to host a variety of threatened species (highlighted above), and has a high probability of being deforested in the near future. With these facts in mind, and after funding two previous purchases aimed at extending JCR towards BSLL, IUCN NL recently proposed a 2-year program to secure the final properties along the corridor to TMA. Once completed the proposed corridor will stretch the roughly 3 km forested ridgeline that runs between JCR and BSLL, thus developing a single continuous protected area approximately 1,000 hectares in size.