Our Work

Conservación Liderada por Indígenas/Indigenous-Led Conservation

Communities from four Indigenous Nations, holding title to millions of acres of ancient rainforest, have joined forces with Andes Amazon Conservancy (AAC) in a collaborative effort aimed at conserving landscape-scale connectivity between the Andes and the Amazon, thereby safeguarding the age-old wildlife migrations that traverse these regions. Spanning 175 miles and encompassing 6 million acres, this Indigenous-conceived and executed eco-cultural corridor stands as a groundbreaking conservation model, especially in a time when 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity is found within Indigenous territories.

Connected habitats within the Ecuadorian Andes-Amazon region is imperative for the ongoing conservation and support of the area’s increasingly imperiled biological diversity. Defending the sovereignty of Indigenous Nations is of paramount importance for the continuous survival of the largest remaining roadless rainforest in Ecuador. AAC provides legal support, training, and technology to communities engaged in their conservation land-use planning efforts.

As communities make choices about where and how they want to create planning districts, these choices are reflected in evolving community maps. Indigenous oral governance processes serve as the means by which all community land-use planning decisions are reached.

Indigenous-led conservation of eco-cultural corridors is successful, scalable, and urgently needs to be applied in the world’s remaining functional ecosystems. 

For over 20 million years, the enduring relationship between the Andes mountains and the Amazon rainforest has endowed this region with the world’s highest biodiversity. In response to the cyclical glacial and warming epochs, a profound exchange of wildlife migration between the Andes and the Amazon basin has driven evolution and enhanced biodiversity. During warm periods, entire forest communities migrate to the cooler microclimates of the Andes foothills. In glacial epochs, these same communities take thousands of years to journey down to the warmer lowlands of the Amazon basin.

However, over the past six decades, the mounting pressures of population growth and development have erected a formidable “development wall” that spans 2,000 miles along the eastern base of the Andes. Roads, settlements, and extensive deforestation have nearly severed the vital migration pathways between the Amazon and the Andes.

The AAC collaboration project area, comprising over 95% roadless rainforest, extends for 175 miles, ranging from the low, steamy wetlands to the cool Andean forests. Once completed, this eco-cultural corridor will serve as a bastion for conserving the most ecologically diverse and resilient landscape in South America, yet to be conserved

It is imperative to collaborate closely with local Indigenous Communities in preserving the ecological integrity of the transitional landscapes between the Andes and the Amazon. The integration of Indigenous traditional knowledge with modern technologies and conservation land-use planning, while also planning for 100 years of population growth serves to fortify biodiversity and wildlife populations.

Wildlands conservation and community land use planning are a single harmonized process.

We are humbled by the number of neighboring Indigenous Communities that want to get involved with this participatory land-use planning process. As adjacent Communities see the positive effects of collaborating with AAC, they initiate contact, and our relationship web grows. Word of our work is spreading from village to village and nation to nation.