LOCATION: Outskirts of Guayaquil City, Ecuador
SIZE: 14,826 acres
KEY SPECIES: Jaguar, White-fronted Capuchin, Mantled Howler Monkey, Red Brocket Deer, Crab-eating Raccoon, Great Green Macaw, Gray-cheeked Parakeet, Gray-backed Hawk, Blackish-headed Spinetail
HABITAT: Dry Tropical Forest
THREATS: Clearing of forest for agriculture, urban expansion, market hunting of native wildlife
ACTION: Purchase 500-acre tract of land in the center of the reserve, environmental education, honorary warden programs
LOCAL PARTNERS: Pro-Bosque Foundation
FINANCIAL NEED: $325,00 for land purchase, $10,000 environmental education
Project Update: The land highlighted in this project has been purchased. Additional land will become available so donations are still being accepted.
The Pro-Bosque Foundation has worked since 1993 to protect and restore the Cerro Blanco Protected Forest, which includes 14,826 acres of Ecuadorian dry forest on the doorstep of Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil, with 2.1 million inhabitants and still growing.
As the city continues to expand, intense pressure is being placed on remaining forest remnants in and around Cerro Blanco, which represents one of the last relatively large tracts of Ecuadorian Dry Forest remaining in the coastal mountains.
Despite its proximity to Guayaquil, Cerro Blanco supports an impressive diversity of plant and animal species. A floristic inventory carried out by the National Herbarium found more than 500 vascular plant species and in their report, Drs. David Neil and Tamara Nunez of the Missouri Botanical Garden wrote, “the Cerro Blanco Protected Forest is one of the biggest and best conserved fragments of Ecuadorian Dry Tropical Forest and offers one of the best options for survival of perhaps 100 of the 500 + registered vascular plant species that are endemic to the dry tropical forest region.”
Cerro Blanco protects 54 mammal species, including incredibly a record of a jaguar a mere 15 minutes from the center of the city of Guayaquil, as well as five other species of cats. Other notable species include Mantled Howler Monkey, Collared Peccary, South American Coati as well as 22 bat species, such as Little Fruit-eating Bat and Fishing Bat.
A total of 219 bird species have been registere d to date atCerro Blanco, and this is one of a handful of nationally protected areas that protect seven or more globally threatened bird species, including the Great Green Macaw, Gray-backed Hawk, Ochre-bellied Dove, Blackish-headed Spinetail, and Rufous-headed Chachalaca among others.
The Pro-BosqueFoundation has spearheaded a campaign to save the critically endangered guayaquilensis subspecies of the Great Green Macaw in Ecuador with the Cerro Blanco Protected Forest and surrounding areas supporting a population of 9-11 individuals. Efforts have included the preparation and implementation of a national conservation strategy for the species, habitat restoration, construction and placement of artificial nest boxes, and protection of macaws and natural nest sites through the creation of a network of honorary park wardens in various communities in and adjacent to macaw habitat. Sadly, however, and despite all efforts, recent information indicates that this isolated and tiny population continues to decline.
The Pro-Forest Foundation has restored close to 500 acres of formerly cut-over land within Cerro Blanco, using 35 native tree species produced in the foundation’s nursery.
The Pro-Forest Foundation has worked with WLT-US and the Netherlands Committee of the World Conservation Union to purchase biologically important lands in Cerro Blanco in the past and has the opportunity to purchase a key tract of 296 acres within the reserve, with the option of purchasing an additional 200 acres. Funds are needed to implement environmental education programs with surrounding communities as well as supporting the work of Pro-Bosque park guards and honorary park wardens.