Empower Local Communities Continued
Two initiatives of recent years merit special mention: 1. The creation of a community
park guard association, and 2. A consultation with the Huangra community regarding
their needs, in conjunction with the opening of an ecological roadway to their isolated
community within Sangay National Park.
Civic celebrations are opportunities to reaffirm the common sentiments that bind communities together.
Community Environmental Promoters
FCT conceptualized and established in 2009 a program of “community environmental
promotors”, originally designated as “community park guards”. These were local young
residents of the southern Sangay National Park region who were given training in
biological monitoring, environmental education and community development. Their
mission was to establish a presence for the Ministry of the Environment in areas beyond
the reach of roads, but where legal in-holders in Sangay NP practiced agriculture and
grazing. Their technique was outreach and education, and because they were
members of the local community, their enthusiasms for the natural environment and its
conservation were more easily communicated to their peers.
CUTIN members prepare a presentation on animal tracking for school children.
The program was so successful that the national electric company, CELEC (via its local
unit, HidroPaute) in 2011 organized the promotors as a formal enterprise called CUTIN
(taking the name of a local frog species) and assumed the operational costs. CELEC
supports watershed conservation because it safeguards the quality and volume of the
water received downstream and used in hydroelectric production. CUTIN scaled-up its
activities to include reforestation, camera trapping, erosion control, silvopastoral
programs and a variety of environmental education initiatives in local primary schools.
The formation of community promotors essentially seeks to substitute external
conservation advocates with advocates from within the community. And CUTIN is also
explicitly an effort to incorporate conservation into the family’s panorama of income
CUTIN environmental promotors and a representative from the Ministry of the Environment were invited by CELEC to visit the Paute River hydroelectric facility.
Support for the Ecological Roadway to the Community of Huangra
A Quichua-speaking community located in the mountains of southern Sangay National
Park had sought the construction of a road between their isolated village and the
nearest road network—about a 7-hour horse ride away. But the Ministry of the
Environment (MAE), which issues environmental licenses for infrastructure projects,
denied the request in compliance with standing national park policy. In the community,
meanwhile, MAE and Sangay authorities were cast as the enemy, and relations soured.
Huangra community members, outside their church, attend a planning session for the new road.
After a decade of entreaties from the community, and subject to pressure from political
forces of other institutions of the government, in 2017 MAE acquiesced and issued the
required environmental license. But this license was given on one condition: that the
road be “green” and, specifically, that it not be used to exploit forest and other natural
resources, but rather serve the community’s development.
The Huangra road under construction.
Given Huangra’s strained relation with MAE, FCT offered to mediate and develop a
management plan that would systematize the community’s requirements for health
services, education, basic services and agricultural extension. A native-born
Ecuadorian, Edwin García, who had graduated from the School of Forestry and
Environmental Studies at Yale, was chosen to consult the community and create the
plan. For its part, MAE contracted a study of the environmental protections needed for
the new road. Combining the FCT report on the collective needs of Huangra with the
conservation agreement accepted by the community, construction of the road
proceeded, and a shared future was forged.