The mission of Fundación Cordillera Tropical (FCT) is to contribute toward the conservation of Ecuador's exceptional biological diversity and hydrological resources. We concentrate our efforts in the Nudo del Azuay, a mountain range in the southern tier of Sangay National Park.
The central pillar of FCT’s approach is support of local communities and landowners in conservation of the Nudo del Azuay’s 96,000 hectares of montane evergreen forest and páramo grassland.
Private landowners hold title to an estimated 47% of land within the Nudo del Azuay and southern Sangay National Park. This mix of public and private ownership necessitates a broad regional vision that explicitly incorporates conservation of private lands. Economic incentives for conservation, such as payments for the protection of environmental services that recognize conservation trade-offs, are at the heart of this approach. Concurrent investments in environmental education, scientific research and monitoring, and local capacity building are expected to increase conservation gains and replace current conservation proponents from outside the community with new ones from within.
Ultimately, we seek to develop a regional conservation consensus that includes property owners in the Paute River basin, local government, the administration of Sangay National Park, and non-profit organizations.
Where we work
The Nudo del Azuay, at the heart of Ecuador’s Cordillera Real Oriental, forms part of the biodiverse eastern Andean cordillera. The region’s ecosystems—páramo grasslands and cloud-shrouded montane forests—are designated internationally as part of the Tropical Andes hotspot, an area whose extraordinary number of endemic species is highly threatened.
The Nudo del Azuay spans an elevation gradient of 3,300 meters (10,827 feet), ascending from 1,200 meters above sea level (3,937 feet) at the Paute River to a soaring height of 4,500 meters (14,763 feet) at Soroche Mountain. This altitudinal gradient forms interconnected wildlife corridors that support endangered and vulnerable species. Important headwaters of the Paute River originate in the region’s mountainous terrain and form the Nudo del Azuay’s six principal watersheds: Dudas, Mazar, Llavircay, Juval, Púlpito and Cardenillo.