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Fundación Cordillera Tropical

US Office

27 Case Pkwy

Burlington, VT 05401



Fundación Cordillera Tropical

Ecuador Office

Oficina 412

Jaime Roldos 4-80 y Huaynacapac

Cuenca, EC



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© 2020   Fundacion Cordillera Tropical  


Projects to Fund

Fundación Cordillera Tropical is currently in need of funding for the following critical conservation initiatives.  Please consider making a donation.


Completion of the Ningar Scientific Station (“Estación Científica Ningar”)


In addition to being home to surprising levels of biodiversity for their extreme elevations, páramos are also critical to sustaining the lives of rural residents and their livestock; and to providing water for consumption, hydroelectric power, and irrigation for agriculture.  Equally as important, organic páramo soils function as “carbon sinks” having sequestered large stocks of carbon over time.  Nonetheless, páramos and high elevation forests are facing serious threats, including those from deforestation as human activities migrate to higher elevations.

Grass paramos, such as this one, continue north from the Ningar Scientific Station for 80 km along the eastern slope of the continental divide, entirely within Sangay National Park.

A student group crosses the pass at the base of Soroche Mountain (summit at about 15,400’), a two-day walk to the north of the planned Ningar Scientific Station.

To better understand how to protect the precious resources of Ecuador’s páramos, FCT has begun construction of a scientific station on private lands located within the Sangay National Park.  In partnership with the Andean Amazon Research Institute (AARI) and Sangay NP authorities, the station will be a center for the study of páramo and high montane (mountain) forest ecology, fauna, flora, soils, geomorphology and the impact of human interventions.  In addition to hosting researchers, it will also be an educational hub for students from Ecuador and around the globe, providing them with an opportunity to initiate their careers in earth and social sciences.

Ningar Scientific Station,

Sangay National Park

Location of Ningar Scientific Station, Sangay National Park, where rust-brown color represents the highest elevations, at which páramo vegetation dominates.  Sources:  Juan Pablo Rivera/ Ministerio del Ambiente.

The location of the Ningar Scientific Station is ideal.  To the north, straddling the Continental Divide, lies 500,000 hectares of Andean habitats within Sangay National Park, undisturbed and largely undocumented—an unparalleled opportunity for research and environmental education, and an effective way to contribute to the conservation goals of the Park. With your help, construction can be completed by February 2021.


Completing the Ningar Scientific Station will require an investment of $164,000 to cover:

  • basic construction costs

  • equipping the station with a state-of-the-art laboratory

  • construction of living spaces and sleeping quarters

  • the installation of a hydroelectric plant

  • costs of initial operation and management

  • outreach to educational institutions in Ecuador and abroad

We anticipate that with fees charged to visitors, the research station will be self-supporting within three years.


Please partner with FCT to construct and put into operation this critically needed scientific station that will further our understanding and conservation of the fragile páramo and montane ecosystems.

Your monthly donation of $25 will help with operational costs and allow FCT to promote the station internationally.

Your single-time donation of $50, $100 or more will help cover construction costs and the purchase of laboratory equipment.

Donations of $1000 or greater will include an invitation for a 3-day stay at the research station cabins once the station is operational.

Please contact us to explore naming opportunities for the laboratory and housing spaces.


Restoring montane forests in Sangay National Park’s buffer zone

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second-best time is now.”  

-- Chinese Proverb


Remaining wild habitats in the Nudo del Azuay are islands surrounded by deforested lands and the buzz of human activity.  Most native wldlife—among them the Andean bear, mountain lion, Andean fox, brocket deer and mountain tapir--are restricted to these isolated pockets.  Here they survive but are extremely vulnerable.


FCT continues its successful program of riverine forest restoration, which establishes biological corridors between Sangay National Park and the agricultural landscapes outside the park.  These corridors increase the species diversity of agricultural areas and allow both wildlife and wild plants a safe haven and expanded territory, permitting them to move, exchange genes and adapt, while improving the livelihoods of property owners through the provision of wood, plant medicines and forage for their cattle.  The net effect is to create a biologically more robust buffer for the wild fauna and flora of Sangay NP. 

Reforestation includes not only major streams, but also smaller tributary streams originating higher on the slopes.

Making holes for planting trees along a denuded section of the Dudas river, adjacent to Sangay National Park.

Our goal is to plant a minimum of 9000 native trees during the next cycle, which will begin in May of 2020 at the onset of the upper Amazon rainy season, and will be completed by November 2020, when the dry season begins.

This planting is a true collaboration.  As in previous reforestation initiatives, a cadre of FCT volunteers and community environmental promotors will plant native trees and shrubs obtained from local nurseries.  FCT will provide mapping and technical support, saplings, material for fences erected to protect the young trees from cattle, while landowners will contribute fence posts and lots and lots of labor.

With the participation of landowners and promotors, and guided by FCT technicians, each section of stream bank to be reforested will be surveyed using transects in order to document baseline measures of biodiversity. Because restoration and connecting isolated habitats are the long-term

objective of riverine forestation, it is critical to document the initial diversity present, in order to measure its progressive restoration over time. From the array of new wildlife that become established in the corridor, we will be able to identify the geographic source of the added species.


During the last riverine planting cycle carried out by FCT, a large number of local landowners in the Dudas watershed requested to participate but could not be accommodated due to time and budget constraints.

The Dudas river with young trees protected from grazers.

These landowners are ready to go!  To support them, and to advance the concept of riverine forests as corridors and facilitators of ecological restoration, we need your support!

$48,000 is required to fully finance the project.  Costs include the purchase of 9000 saplings; barbed wire for fencing; road transport of trees and personnel; horse transport to remote sites; a technical administrator to oversee the planting and baseline study; food for communal lunches on planting days; and mapping and sharing of the results to local institutions and the public.


Your donation of $50 will help purchase supplies necessary to carry out riverine reforestation.

Your donation of $200 will allow us to plant and protect 100 native trees.

Mazar River Project


Watersheds in the Sangay National Park provide about 35% of Ecuador’s electricity needs.

Originating within Sangay National Park, the Mazar River is among a handful of critical watersheds for the Paute Integral hydroelectric plant, which produces about 35% of Ecuador’s total electrical output.  The quality and behavior of these waters directly impacts this electricity supply and its cost to the public.  The purpose of the Mazar River Project is to study and maintain a continuous record of the river’s discharge and sediment loads at the Mazar River measurement site.  Specialized, automated instrumentation extracts water samples for data collection.

Researchers Beverley Wemple (University of Vermont) and Derek Martin (Appalachian State University) working in the Mazar River at the sampling site.

The Amaluza dam and reservoir, a collection point for waters originating in the Mazar drainage, among others of the larger Paute watershed.

Begun in 2014, the data generated by the Mazar River Project helps explain the relationship between river behavior and the conservation status of upland native forests and páramos.  By measuring variations over time of fluctuations in water volume, sediments and soluble substances, and comparing these observations with those of other mountain watersheds, the project data will contribute to understanding these mountain streams.  FCT has standing agreements with the Paute Integral hydroelectric plant to share its results with them, along with other researchers.  This information is of vital importance for the preservation of upstream native forests and páramos.  


The longer-term objective is to replicate the Mazar River sampling data set on other streams in the larger Paute watershed and across the upper Amazon basins in Ecuador.

Please see the Resources/Publications page for the initial results of the Mazar River Project.

The five principal watersheds (“cuencas”) in the Nudo del Azuay.  The Mazar watershed is number two.

To keep the Mazar River Project operational during 2020, FCT needs to raise $9200.  These funds are required to:

  • maintain the automated sampler

  • periodically visit the site and download data

  • analyze sediment loads (with the assistance of students and faculty at the Univ. Politécnica Salesiana, Cuenca)

  • purchase a new pressure transducer (a device that translates water pressure to river flow)

  • maintain access to hydrologists who are modeling the long-term river behavior


Because FCT considers its Mazar River Project a example to be replicated elsewhere in the Nudo del Azuay, additional funds will be needed in the second half of 2020 to cover costs of site visits, outreach programs and workshops.

Please donate to the Mazar River Project to keep the data flowing and the decision-making on target! 

Your contribution of $200 will allow for a week of river monitoring, data collection and sediment analysis.

Your partnership contribution of $800 will allow FCT to purchase a new pressure transducer.

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"To conserve biodiversity in the tropical Andes of Ecuador"