A consortium of partners including the Amphibian Survival Alliance, Rainforest Trust (RT), Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC), Andrew Sabin Family Foundation and the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) have come together to enable local partner Fundación Jocotoco to purchase 6,100 acres of critical wildlife habitat in Ecuador. Previously Fundación Jocotoco had purchased Sunfohuayco, an adjoining property of close to 6000 acres. The mammoth property acquisition will create a permanent refuge for three threatened species of frogs from the genus Pristimantis found nowhere else and the largest population of Andean Condors in the Northern Andes.
The final 6,100 acre property, called Hacienda Antisanilla, was acquired to complete a project by the Ministry of Natural Resources of Ecuador, Fundación Jocotoco, the Municipality of Quito, and the Quito Water Authority that will both protect endangered species and secure an important source of drinking water for Ecuador’s capital city. The total protected area by this group amounts to approximately 270,000 acres.
“The purchase of multiple properties around Volcan Antisana represents one of the greatest conservation victories ever in the Andes of South America,” said Dr. Robert Ridgely, President of Rainforest Trust and a driving force behind this conservation success. “The final acquisition of Hacienda Antisanilla caps a decade-long effort by Rainforest Trust and our Ecuadorian partner Fundación Jocotoco to protect this fragile and biodiverse ecosystem. We are grateful to all of the partners, organizations and donors who made this possible, including The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, who provided critical support to acquire the Hacienda Antisanilla property.”
“The purchase of Hacienda Antisanilla was critical, as this property held the most important site for roosting and nesting Andean Condors – Ecuador’s National bird and emblazoned on our national flag.” noted Fundación Jocotoco Executive Director Rocio Merino. “So after years of struggling, we were able to purchase and protect the area thanks to the constant support of Rainforest Trust and Quito authorities.”
“The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation supports the important work of conservation to preserve the rich biodiversity of the Northern Andes,” said Susan M. Coliton, vice president of The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. “We saw that the Hacienda Antisanilla property was critical to protecting this population of Andean Condors and were encouraged by the effective cooperation between the conservation effort and the local authorities. We are pleased to have been a part of this successful and important initiative.”
The glaciers of the 3.5 mile high Antisana Volcano give way to unique highland steppe and descend into lush subtropical forests on the Andean slopes and into Amazonian rainforest. Located just 20 miles from Quito, this enormous but undeveloped area first attracted the attention of conservationists in the 1980s. The Ecuadorian government declared it an ecological reserve in 1993, but the area remained in private hands. Much of the land continued to be farmed, and wildlife was increasingly threatened by over-grazing, fires, and poaching.
Now, the mosaic of alpine grasslands, rugged canyons, and tropical forests has been purchased and will enjoy strict protection within the Antisana Ecological Reserve, forming one of the greatest protected areas in the Tropical Andes.
Home to the largest single population of condors in the Northern Andes, Antisana is also frequented by Cougars, Spectacled Bears, and the endangered Woolly Tapir. Antisana is of critical global importance for biodiversity and highlighted as an Alliance for Zero Extinction site due to the presence of no less than three species of threatened frogs – Pristimantis acerus, Pristimantis ignicolor, and Pristimantis lividus – found nowhere else. Sadly, the Jambato Toad (Atelopus ignescens), once common in Antisana, has already gone extinct.
All the properties purchased will be improved by the removal of cattle from the fragile native grassland called “Páramo,” while park guards will patrol the area to curtail poaching.
“This enormous land protection project is even more significant as not only does it help to protect the most critical source of water for the ever-expanding city of Quito but it also connects to two adjacent protected areas, Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve and Gran Sumaco National Park,” said Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust, “Combined, these protected areas safeguard 1.8 million acres of biologically diverse Andean and Amazonian ecosystems.”
“The Andes are a global biodiversity hotspot, and the new reserve will help conserve a key ecosystem with species found nowhere else in the world. The project highlights the importance of collaboration among local organizations, government agencies, and international NGOs,” said Dr. Don Church, President of GWC.
This land purchase project was made possible by the efforts of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Fundación Jocotoco, Rainforest Trust, Ministry of Environment, the Quito Municipality, the Quito Water Authority (EMAAP), the Quito Water Fund (FONAG), EcoFondo, American Bird Conservancy, Blue Moon Foundation, Global Wildlife Conservation, Andrew Sabin Family Foundation, March Foundation, and private donors.
Ridgely, one of Jocotoco’s founders, adds. “I am grateful to one and all. This surely is the most exciting moment in my conservation career.”
We are very grateful for the support of many Ecuadorian and international organizations and donors to make this dream a reality, including the Anadel Law; Andrew Farnsworth; Amphibian Survival Alliance; American Bird Conservancy; Andrew Sabin Family Foundation; BirdLife International; Blue Moon Fund; Butler Foundation; Cabañas San Isidro; Centro de Rescate Ilitio; Conservation International; EcoFondo; Empresa Municipal de Alcantarillado Agua Potable; Estación Científica Yanayacu; Estudio Jurídico Gallegos y Asociados ; Familia Vallejo, Hacienda Guáytara; Fundación Jocotoco; James & Ellen Strauss; Juan Kohn; Global Wildlife Conservation; Grupo Nacional de Trabajo del Condor Andino; Larry Thompson; Leapfrog Conservation Initiative; Marybeth Sollins; March Foundation; Ministerio del Ambiente, Government of Ecuador; Ministerio del Turismo, Government of Ecuador; Municipio de Quito; Museo Ecuatoriano de Ciencias Naturales; Nature and Culture International; Parque Zoólogico de Guayllabamba; Paul G. Allen Foundation; Rainforest Trust; Robert & Peg Ridgely; Sally Davidson; Sangreal Foundation; The Butler Foundation; The Bobolink Foundation; The March Foundation; The Nature Conservancy ; The Peregrine Fund; The Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust, and many more supporters.
Amphibian Survival Alliance
The Amphibian Survival Alliance is the world’s largest partnership for amphibian conservation, formed in response to the decline of frogs, salamanders and caecilians worldwide. Without immediate and coordinated action we stand to lose half of some 7,000 species of amphibians in our lifetimes. The ASA draws on cutting-edge research to protect amphibians and key habitats worldwide, in addition to educating and inspiring the global community to become a part of the amphibian conservation movement. www.amphibians.org
Global Wildlife Conservation
Global Wildlife Conservation GWC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit conservation organization whose mission is to protect endangered species and habitats through science-based field action. GWC conserves the world’s most endangered species and their habitats through exploration, research, and conservation. By maximizing effectiveness through collaboration, GWC unites with the world’s leading conservation organizations, universities, zoological and botanical organizations, and museums. GWC is a revolutionary organization that builds upon the collective knowledge of conservation pioneers with modern methods and tools. Employing a dynamic model, which combines a science-based strategy and local action with its in-country partners, GWC’s initiatives are centered on the urgent need to prevent species extinctions. www.globalwildlife.org
Rainforest Trust, formerly World Land Trust-US, is a nonprofit conservation organization focused on saving rainforest and endangered species. Since its founding in 1988, Rainforest Trust has saved almost 8 million acres of rainforests and other tropical habitats in 73 projects across 20 tropical countries. The nonprofit purchases and protects threatened land in partnership with local conservation leaders and indigenous communities. Rainforest Trust has been awarded the top four-star Charity Navigator rating for each of the last five years. www.rainforesttrust.org