The Sozoranga forest project

Chris Jiggins

This project aims to secure the long term future of forests in a remote area of south-west Ecuador which has high conservation significance owing to it's threatened and endemic birds, mammals and plantlife. The biological surveys conducted included bird and butterfly inventories, botanical transects and incidental records of other fauna including mammals and snakes. Three sites were surveyed:

1) Reserva Natural El Tundo where 138 bird species were recorded, including 8 considered globally threatened and 4 near threatened. Of particular importance is the Grey headed ant-bird, as the reserve is only one of two to support it. Butterfly surveys recorded 99 species. A management plan was formulated recommending a)limits to grazing within the forest; b)investment in a coffee plantation to provide sustainable income for management as well as reforestation and promotion of the site for ecotourism. The reserve itself was extended by 80 ha to 158 ha with a purchase by this project;
2) Hacienda Jujal where surveys were conducted and, most importantly, the legal ownership rights of the area for the inhabitants was clarified; and
3) Tambo Negro.

A follow-up expedition is planned for April - June 1999 which aims to continue the work on the new reserve, to evaluate it successes and failures and to lay the foundations for its long term future.