Projects to Fund
Fundación Cordillera Tropical is currently seeking funding for the following critical conservation initiatives. Please consider making a donation today.
Completion of the Ningar Scientific Station
(“Estación Científica Ningar”)
In addition to being home to surprising levels of biodiversity given their extreme elevations, páramos are also critical to sustaining the lives of rural residents and their livestock, providing water for consumption, hydroelectric power, and irrigation for agriculture. Equally as important, organic páramo soils function as “carbon sinks,” sequestering large stocks of carbon over time. Nonetheless, páramos and high elevation forests are facing serious threats, including those from deforestation, as human activities extend to higher elevations.
Grass páramos 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 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, where páramo vegetation dominates. Source: Juan Pablo Rivera/Ministerio del Ambiente
The location of the Ningar Scientific Station is ideal. To the north, straddling the Continental Divide, lie 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 one-time donation of $50, $100, or more will help cover construction costs and the purchase of laboratory equipment.
Donations of $1000 or more will include an invitation for a three-night stay at the research station cabins once the station is operational.
Please contact us to explore naming opportunities for the laboratory and housing spaces.
Restoration of 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 wildlife—including 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 also improving the livelihoods of property owners through the provision of wood, medicinal plants, and fodder 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 with 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 promoters will plant native trees and shrubs obtained from local nurseries. FCT will provide mapping and technical support, saplings, and 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 promoters, 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!
A total of $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
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 impact 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 at the Mazar River sampling site.
The Amaluza dam and reservoir, a collection point for waters originating in the Mazar drainage, among others of the larger Paute watershed.
Since the Mazar River Project was first begun in 2014, the data generated has helped to explain the relationship between river behavior and the conservation status of upland native forests and páramos. By measuring variations in fluctuations of water volume, sediments, and soluble substances over time and comparing these observations with those of other mountain watersheds, the project will contribute to our understanding these mountain streams. FCT has a standing agreement with the Paute Integral hydroelectric plant to share its results with them, as well as 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 an 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.
Internship in Conservation Videography
NOTICE: Because of the global Covid-19 situation, the Internship in Conservation Videography is being postponed until July 2021.
At the start of 2021, FCT will sponsor a videography workshop focused on conservation efforts in and around Sangay National Park. The workshop will document the incredible natural habitats and landscapes, the farming systems and livelihoods of the local populations, and the efforts of local actors—various levels of government, community associations, and NGOs, including Fundación Cordillera Tropical—to understand and protect local fauna, flora, and wild habitats.
This nine-day field course will be led by Jim Clare—a distinguished professional filmmaker who has produced documentaries for the BBC, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and the national TV stations of France and New Zealand, among many others—with the assistance of Nicho Ader, a talented and passionate Communications graduate from the University of Vermont (USA). The course will be limited to 11 students. Attendees will be charged a fee to contribute to the costs of their housing, food, in-country transportation, instructor compensation, and computing and editing facilities. However, to keep student fees at accessible levels, FCT seeks funds to provide partial scholarships for all those applicants accepted. We will apply your donations to the program cost, reducing the fee charged to students. Participants will be chosen by committee according to their motivations and prior accomplishments in the visual arts. The videos produced by students will be included on the FCT webpage and made available, subtitled or dubbed in Spanish, to educational institutions in Ecuador.
Jim Clare on a bear filming project in Sangay National Park.
A grass páramo in the buffer zone of Cajas National Park.
FCT seeks donations for the video field school scholarship fund. You will be provided with copies of the conservation documentaries created by students, plus interviews and out-takes made during filming.
Your donation of $200 will help cover the costs of a scholarship that will allow a student to participate in this rewarding program.