Bio-Corridor Protection Project

The Conambo River and nearby ancient river beds that have turned into ponds. Severe spring flooding has redesigned the
valley for millions of years. Drone photo by Mark Fox

Southeast Ecuador is still in great shape in terms of the remaining bio-diversity and opportunities for functional bio-corridors that could maintain its flora and fauna. AAC has been researching and advocating for the protection of a network of bio-corridors that could connect vast areas of the Amazon flatlands with the Andes Mountains. These areas have highly interconnected biomes that have evolved together for millions of years.

With the next 1,000 years expected to be warmer than normal there is a mass migration happening now from hotter low land areas into the Andes Mountains which offer cooler climates. Allowing for the large-scale movement of all species with permanently protected migration corridors is the only way to succeed in conserving bio-diversity. It’s also the only way to make sure that the rare and endangered species list does not grow exponentially. The Earth's Endangered Creatures website lists 2,588 endangered species in Ecuador. This list is just the symptom. What we need now is a cure for the real underlying causes.

We all know that one of the causes is habitat loss. But now with the climate warming rapidly, connectivity between diverse habitats is the real make or break cure. Bio-corridors add critical habitat and allow species the freedom to move as they look for new areas that meet their needs. The size and design of these bio-corridors is dependent on many inter-related topics including: geography, flooding and other natural disturbances, historic wildlife migration patterns, ecosystem connectivity, local human populations and their desires to name just a few. Here are 3 of the most important bio-corridor opportunities in the region. All of them are in urgent need of protection due to the fast pace of human development and the threat of mining and petroleum.

The Yasuni Achuar Bio-Corridor

Yasuni National Park has an enormous human development corridor to the west and northwest that completely blocks wildlife migration. It is only to the southwest that most species in the park can move in their search for new habitat. This area which lies between Yasuni National Park and the Achuar territory has numerous river valleys that are overrun by yearly floods which create a mosaic of old growth rainforests with a variety of fruit trees and low lying herbaceous growth. This area sustains large populations of mammals such as tapir, capybara, black panthers and jaguars. In addition, thousands of ox bow ponds (old river beds) that range from ancient to just a few years old are in all stages of eutrophication. (Eutrophication is the process where ponds slowly fill with plants and plant debris and over a millennia evolve into wetlands, bogs and meadows) They also drive extremely high bio-diversity which ranges from tiny aquatic and semi-aquatic species at the base of the food chain on up to giant anacondas and crocodiles. The combination of river, pond, wetland and forest diversity in this area is tremendous. The AAC’s Shiwiar territory planning project has identified a significant part of this bio-corridor.

The Mangozisa River at the base of the Shaime mountain range which contains over 500,000 acres of ancient rainforest . Drone photo by Bob Itami

The Shaime Mangozisa Bio-Corridor

The Mangozisa river basin, in Shuar territory, is one of the last areas in Ecuador where the transition between the mountains and plains is still intact. This is critical because the immense bio-diversity of the Amazon flats (the right side of photo) is right now migrating up into the Shaime mountains (on the left side of the photo).

The 110-kilometer-long Shaime mountain range, which hangs over the river, contains over 500,000 acres of pristine rainforest that are a crucial connecting center piece for the remaining regional ecosystems including: the enormous Santiago Comainas Rainforest Reserve in Peru ,the Palora Pastaza Bio-Corridor described below and as mentioned the Ecuadorian Amazon flats. The area contains important populations of black panther, jaguar, tapir and many other emblematic species that depend on large scale connectivity to have populations that are large enough to be genetically viable. Maintaining wildlife migration corridors between Peru and Ecuador is essential to the bio-diversity of the region! The AAC’s Mangozisa river lodge locations are strategically located to foster a conservation ethic using eco-tourism to bring about an awareness of the Shaime Mangozisa Bio-Corridor.

The Palora River as it exits Sangay National Park and the Andes mountains in Pablo Sexto. Photo by Mystic Travel.

The Palora Pastaza Bio-Corridor

The relationship between the Amazon and the Andes created the highest ecological diversity on the planet. In the last few decades however, a development corridor at the base of the Andes has emerged that separates these two great biomes all the way from Peru to the Caribbean. This threatens the extinction of entire forest communities, as temperature-sensitive species attempt and fail - to migrate to higher ground as climate change increases temperatures.

However, the AAC has identified a critical break in this swath of development. A largely intact potential bio-corridor still exists that runs from the 1.25 million-acre Sangay National Park in the Andes down into the Ecuadorian Amazon.

The photo shows the wildly beautiful Palora river valley, which sees frequent large-scale flooding that creates a rich mosaic of forest types. This valley has seen millions of years of mass migrations of a wide range of mammals, insects, amphibians and birds. Our goal is to help re- establish these migrations. The AAC has brought this globally important bio-corridor opportunity to the attention of all branches of local government and indigenous leaders. We will be continuing our efforts in Quito and abroad as we seek conservation funding. Its important to save endangered species like Pygmy Marmosets, White Lipped Mud Turtles and Saddleback Tamarins. Protecting a broad network of wildlands that connect Yasuni National Park and the Peruvian Amazon with Sangay national park and the Andes is the most important ecological goal that Ecuador could ever hope to achieve.

Google Earth map showing the development corridor in white, Sangay National Park in green, the Palora Pastaza Bio-Corridor in red and magenta, the Yasuni Achuar Bio-Corridor in blue, the Shaime Mangozisa Bio-corridor in orange and below that the northern end of a bio-corridor complex in Peru that is shown in yellow

The overall bio-diversity that could be maintained between the Amazon flatlands and the 17,000 foot peaks of the Andes would be more than 10,000 times that of the Galapagos Islands.

Conserving this wild lands network would also conserve the processes that created bio-diversity in the first place and this is the only real cure. So if we really want to ensure that the next generation does not have an endangered species list that is many times longer, we have to act now. The Palora- Pastaza, Shaime-Mangozisa and Yasuni-Achuar Bio-Corridors together would create a globally significant ecological attraction. This in turn would create large bio-tourism opportunities that would help wean Ecuador off of the oil and mining that threaten to destroy the area and the many indigenous cultures that have lived there in harmony for thousands of years.

The 110-kilometer-long Shaime mountain range, which hangs over the river, contains over 500,000 acres of pristine rainforest that are a crucial connecting center piece for the remaining regional ecosystems including: the enormous Santiago Comainas Rainforest Reserve in Peru ,the Palora Pastaza Bio-Corridor described below and as mentioned the Ecuadorian Amazon flats. The area contains important populations of black panther, jaguar, tapir and many other emblematic species that depend on large scale connectivity to have populations that are large enough to be genetically viable. Maintaining wildlife migration corridors between Peru and Ecuador is essential to the bio-diversity of the region! The AAC’s Mangozisa river lodge locations are strategically located to foster a conservation ethic using eco-tourism to bring about an awareness of the Shaime Mangozisa Bio-Corridor.

AAC is collaborating with indigenous leaders and local governments to advocate for the protection of these three world class bio-corridors. Your donation will allow us to expand our outreach and grow the awareness of the actual cure for species loss in this region of legendary bio-diversity.

The leadership of the Shiwiar in the Ecuadorian Amazon is collaborating with the Andes Amazon Conservancy to develop conservation plans for their territory.

Southeast Ecuador is still in great shape in terms of the remaining bio-diversity and opportunities for functional bio-corridors that could maintain its flora and fauna. AAC has been researching and advocating for the protection of a network of bio-corridors that could connect vast areas of the Amazon flatlands with the Andes Mountains. These areas have highly interconnected biomes that have evolved together for millions of years.

With the next 1,000 years expected to be warmer than normal there is a mass migration happening now from hotter low land areas into the Andes Mountains which offer cooler climates. Allowing for the large-scale movement of all species with permanently protected migration corridors is the only way to succeed in conserving bio-diversity. It’s also the only way to make sure that the rare and endangered species list does not grow exponentially. The Earth's Endangered Creatures website lists 2,588 endangered species in Ecuador. This list is just the symptom. What we need now is a cure for the real underlying causes.

We all know that one of the causes is habitat loss. But now with the climate warming rapidly, connectivity between diverse habitats is the real make or break cure. Bio-corridors add critical habitat and allow species the freedom to move as they look for new areas that meet their needs. The size and design of these bio-corridors is dependent on many inter-related topics including: geography, flooding and other natural disturbances, historic wildlife migration patterns, ecosystem connectivity, local human populations and their desires to name just a few. Here are 3 of the most important bio-corridor opportunities in the region. All of them are in urgent need of protection due to the fast pace of human development and the threat of mining and petroleum.

The Yasuni Achuar Bio-Corridor

Yasuni National Park has an enormous human development corridor to the west and northwest that completely blocks wildlife migration. It is only to the southwest that most species in the park can move in their search for new habitat. This area which lies between Yasuni National Park and the Achuar territory has numerous river valleys that are overrun by yearly floods which create a mosaic of old growth rainforests with a variety of fruit trees and low lying herbaceous growth.

This area sustains large populations of mammals such as tapir, capybara, black panthers and jaguars. In addition, thousands of ox bow ponds (old river beds) that range from ancient to just a few years old are in all stages of eutrophication. (Eutrophication is the process where ponds slowly fill with plants and plant debris and over a millennia evolve into wetlands, bogs and meadows) They also drive extremely high bio-diversity which ranges from tiny aquatic and semi-aquatic species at the base of the food chain on up to giant anacondas and crocodiles. The combination of river, pond, wetland and forest diversity in this area is tremendous. The AAC’s Shiwiar territory planning project has identified a significant part of this bio-corridor.

The Shaime Mangozisa Bio-Corridor

The Mangozisa river basin, in Shuar territory, is one of the last areas in Ecuador where the transition between the mountains and plains is still intact. This is critical because the immense bio-diversity of the Amazon flats (the right side of photo) is right now migrating up into the Shaime mountains (on the left side of the photo).

The 110-kilometer-long Shaime mountain range, which hangs over the river, contains over 500,000 acres of pristine rainforest that are a crucial connecting center piece for the remaining regional ecosystems including: the enormous Santiago Comainas Rainforest Reserve in Peru ,the Palora Pastaza Bio-Corridor described below and as mentioned the Ecuadorian Amazon flats. The area contains important populations of black panther, jaguar, tapir and many other emblematic species that depend on large scale connectivity to have populations that are large enough to be genetically viable. Maintaining wildlife migration corridors between Peru and Ecuador is essential to the bio-diversity of the region! The AAC’s Mangozisa river lodge locations are strategically located to foster a conservation ethic using eco-tourism to bring about an awareness of the Shaime Mangozisa Bio-Corridor.

The Palora Pastaza Bio-Corridor

The relationship between the Amazon and the Andes created the highest ecological diversity on the planet. In the last few decades however, a development corridor at the base of the Andes has emerged that separates these two great biomes all the way from Peru to the Caribbean. This threatens the extinction of entire forest communities, as temperature-sensitive species attempt and fail - to migrate to higher ground as climate change increases temperatures.

However, the AAC has identified a critical break in this swath of development. A largely intact potential bio-corridor still exists that runs from the 1.25 million-acre Sangay National Park in the Andes down into the Ecuadorian Amazon.

The photo shows the wildly beautiful Palora river valley, which sees frequent large-scale flooding that creates a rich mosaic of forest types. This valley has seen millions of years of mass migrations of a wide range of mammals, insects, amphibians and birds. Our goal is to help re- establish these migrations. The AAC has brought this globally important bio-corridor opportunity to the attention of all branches of local government and indigenous leaders. We will be continuing our efforts in Quito and abroad as we seek conservation funding. Its important to save endangered species like Pygmy Marmosets, White Lipped Mud Turtles and Saddleback Tamarins. Protecting a broad network of wildlands that connect Yasuni National Park and the Peruvian Amazon with Sangay national park and the Andes is the most important ecological goal that Ecuador could ever hope to achieve.

The overall bio-diversity that could be maintained between the Amazon flatlands and the 17,000 foot peaks of the Andes would be more than 10,000 times that of the Galapagos Islands.

Conserving this wild lands network would also conserve the processes that created bio-diversity in the first place and this is the only real cure. So if we really want to ensure that the next generation does not have an endangered species list that is many times longer, we have to act now. The Palora- Pastaza, Shaime-Mangozisa and Yasuni-Achuar Bio-Corridors together would create a globally significant ecological attraction. This in turn would create large bio-tourism opportunities that would help wean Ecuador off of the oil and mining that threaten to destroy the area and the many indigenous cultures that have lived there in harmony for thousands of years.

The 110-kilometer-long Shaime mountain range, which hangs over the river, contains over 500,000 acres of pristine rainforest that are a crucial connecting center piece for the remaining regional ecosystems including: the enormous Santiago Comainas Rainforest Reserve in Peru ,the Palora Pastaza Bio-Corridor described below and as mentioned the Ecuadorian Amazon flats. The area contains important populations of black panther, jaguar, tapir and many other emblematic species that depend on large scale connectivity to have populations that are large enough to be genetically viable. Maintaining wildlife migration corridors between Peru and Ecuador is essential to the bio-diversity of the region! The AAC’s Mangozisa river lodge locations are strategically located to foster a conservation ethic using eco-tourism to bring about an awareness of the Shaime Mangozisa Bio-Corridor.

AAC is collaborating with indigenous leaders and local governments to advocate for the protection of these three world class bio-corridors. Your donation will allow us to expand our outreach and grow the awareness of the actual cure for species loss in this region of legendary bio-diversity.