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Fundación Cordillera Tropical

27 Case Pkwy

Burlington, VT 05401



© 2019   Fundacion Cordillera Tropical  

Projects to Fund

Fundación Cordillera Tropical is currently accepting funding for 4 urgent projects, described here.


Ningar Scientific Station (“Estación Científica Ningar”)


FCT will soon construct a scientific station to study paramo and upper montane forest within Sangay National Park.  In conjunction with the Andean Amazon Research Institute (AARI), the station will be a center for the study of paramo and high montane forest ecology, fauna, flora, soils,geomorphology and the impact of human interventions.  It will be an educational hub for students from Ecuador and abroad and will provide an opportunity for students to initiate their careers in earth and social sciences.  Construction is scheduled to begin in April 2020 and will be completed by February 2021.

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 scientific station is an urgent necessity in Sangay NP.  FCT will build the station on a private legal holding within southern Sangay National Park, under a 23-year lease and use agreement, and will operate the station in conjunction with AARI and Sangay NP authorities.  To the north of the research station, 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 opportunity to contribute to the conservation goals of the 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.

Ningar Scientific Station,

Sangay National Park

Location of Ningar Scientific Station, Sangay National Park:  (1) Within the entire Park (left), where red represents paramo; and (2) on an air photo at the local scale (right), where light gray is paramo grassland and dark gray is montane forest.

Sources:  Juan Pablo Rivera/Ministerio del Ambiente (left); Instituto Geográfico Militar (right).

Please help FCT to construct and put into operation this critically needed scientific station.  You will be kept informed of our progress.  Donations of $900 or more include an invitation for a 3-day stay without cost at the research station cabins anytime during 2021. 


The Ningar Scientific Station will require an investment of $164,000 to cover basic construction costs, equipping the station with a lab, providing living spaces and sleeping quarters, the installation of a hydroelectric plant, costs of initial operation and management, and 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.


Restoring montane forests in Sangay National Park’s buffer zone

FCT continues its program of riverine forest restoration, which seeks to establish biological corridors between Sangay National Park and the agricultural landscapes outside the park.  The fundamental objectives are to increase the species richness of agricultural areas; allow species to use the corridors to move and adapt; improve livelihoods of property owners through which the rivers run; and create a biologically more robust buffer for the wild habitats of Sangay.  A minimum of 9000 trees will be planted during the next cycle.


Planting 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.

Reforestation includes not only major streams, but smaller tributary streams originating in side valleys.

As in previous silvopastoral initiatives, a cadre of FCT volunteers plus members of the CUTIN local environmental promotors will plant native trees and shrubs obtained from community nurseries.  Landowners will contribute fence posts to protect the young trees from cattle, and FCT will provide the young trees, barbed wire, mapping and technical support. 


With the participation of landowners and promotors, and guided by a FCT technician, each section of stream margin to be reforested will be surveyed using transects in order to document the baseline biodiversity.  Because restoration and functional connectivity is the long-term objective of water course forestation, it is critical to document the initial diversity present in order to measure its progressive restoration over time.  From the array of new species that become established in the corridor, we will be able to measure the geographic source of the added richness.

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

The Dudas river with young trees protected from grazers.

$48,000 is needed to finance the project, whose component costs include the 9000 trees to be planted; barbed wire; road transport of trees and personnel; horse transport to sites removed from the road network; a technical administrator to oversee the planting and baseline study; food for communal lunches on planting days; and mapping and diffusion of the results to local institutions and the public.

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

These landowners are ready to go.  To support them, and to advance the concept of riverine forests as corridors and facilitators of ecological restoration, your contribution to this project is needed.  With your help it will happen—and it will happen soon!

Mazar River Project


Our objective is to maintain a continuous record of discharge and sediments at the Mazar measurement site using an ISCO 6712 automated water sampler for the extraction of stream water samples, continuing the data series begun in 2014.

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

The Mazar River is among a handful of critical watersheds for the Paute Integral hydroelectric production system, which produces about 35% of Ecuador’s total electrical output.  By measuring variations over time of fluxes in water volume, sediments and solutes, and comparing these observations with those of other mountain catchments, the project data will contribute to understanding and modeling these mountain streams.  This information will be of vital importance to decision-makers of Paute Integral, and the preservation of upstream native forests and páramos.  FCT has standing agreements with the two production units of Paute Integral, HidroPaute and HidroAzogues, and will share its results with them and other researchers.  The longer-term objective is to replicate the Mazar sampling data set on other streams in the larger Paute watershed and across the upper Amazon catchments in Ecuador.

The five principal watersheds (“cuencas”) in the Nudo del Azuay.  The Mazar watershed is number 2.

The Amaluza dam and reservoir, a collection point for waters originating in the Mazar drainage, among others of the larger Paute watershed.  The quality and behavior of these waters is critical to Ecuador’s provision of electricity.  Data generated by the Mazar Project will help explain the relationship between river behavior and the conservation status of upland native forests and paramos.

Please donate to the Mazar River Project to keep the data flowing and the decision-making on target!  Your $200 will allow for a week of river monitoring, data collection and sediment analysis.

FCT needs to raise $9200 for operations during 2020.  These funds are required to maintain the automated sampler, periodically visit the site and download the accumulated data, analyze sediment loads (with the assistance of students and faculty at the Univ. Politécnica Salesiana, Cuenca), purchase a new pressure transducer, and maintain access to hydrologists who are modeling the long-term river behavior.  Because FCT considers its Mazar River Project a model to be replicated elsewhere in the Nudo del Azuay, additional funds will be needed in the second semester of 2020 to cover the costs of site visits, outreach programs and workshops.

 Field School in Conservation Videography


FCT will sponsor in the second semester of 2020 a videography workshop 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 resident 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 field course of 9 days on the ground in Ecuador 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 other producers; 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, transport in country, instructor compensation, and computing and editing facilities.  But to keep student fees at accessible levels, FCT seeks funds to provide partial scholarships to all the accepted applicants.  Participants will be chosen according to their motivations and prior accomplishments in the visual arts.  A committee led by Jim Clare and including a representative of Sangay National Park will screen candidates and make the final selection.  The videos produced by students will be included on the FCT webpage and be made available, subtitled or dubbed in Spanish, to educational institutions in Ecuador.

Jim Clare on a bear filming project in Sangay National Park.

FCT seeks donations towards 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.