Puyango Municipal Conservation Area, Loja, Ecuador
About the project:
The Puyango Municipal Conservation Area in Loja, Ecuador was expanded by 24,524 hectares in November 2020. With support from the Andes Amazon Fund (AAF), an Initiative 20x20 partner, the reserve now protects 28,984 hectares of precious humid forest as well as rare tropical dry forest.
Puyango is one of the first reserves created in Ecuador dedicated to the protection of native stingless bees, hard-working pollinators that local people rely on to grow nutritious food. Bee populations are dwindling worldwide as deforestation destroys their habitats and pesticides and climate change disrupt their life cycles, but even the smallest of insects play an outsized role in the function and health of ecosystems and economies. That's why protecting areas like Puyango is key to the future of Ecuador's rural landscapes, and why local people are at the center.
AAF grantee Nature and Culture International trained local communities in reforestation, beekeeping, and honey harvesting techniques so that production can increase as these pollinators are protected. Local people are managing 4,600 domesticated beehives, benefitting approximately 160 families. By safeguarding their forest, these leading communities are protecting their own water sources, too.
The expanded reserve also includes vital habitat for one of Southern Ecuador’s last populations of mantled howler monkey. Other significant species that find their home in the area include the endangered grey-cheeked parakeet (Brotogeris pyrrhoptera) and the vulnerable American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus).
This expansion of the Puyango Municipal Conservation Area was a result of collaboration between Nature and Culture International, the Municipality of Puyango, FORAGUA, and communities from the Mancomunidad of Meliponas. Support was provided by AAF as well as Belgium Cooperation and BOS+.