Ecuador: N4J/Los Aliados First Initiative
Sustainable management of the Andean-Amazonian cloud forest in the
buffer region of the Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve in Ecuador
N4J is supporting Fundación Los Aliados (Aliados) to work with marginalized communities affected by the climate crisis in a critically important region of the Andean-Amazon slope in Ecuador, where up to 20% of eastern tropical cloud forests have been lost in the past two decades.
Local farmers are looking to end cattle ranching, which is the primary driver of ecosystem loss in the area.
Aliados is partnering with Cloudforest Organics and local farmers to implement a sustainable cloud forest management program in the Cayambe Coca Ecological Reserve buffer area.
Implement a sophisticated fauna and flora monitoring program, with particular attention to at-risk species, such as the white-spectacled bear.
Research, conducted in partnership with a local university, to identify environmentally friendly alternative cash crops, with particular attention to the protein-rich, leguminous tree species Porotón ( Erythrina edulis ).
Cultivated for centuries, Erythrina edulis is an important food source for humans and animals in the tropical highlands of South America. The seed is a component of many diets, and the trees also provide shade in coffee and cacao plantations, support for vine crops, green manure, live fenceposts, wood for construction and fuel, and medicinal preparations.
Promote a forest restoration pilot on an initial area of 60 hectares bordering Cayambe Coca National Park with Porotón and other native species.
Build on Phase I by developing markets for certified, wild-safe cloud forest Porotón and other superfoods, and supporting farmers to incorporate new agroforestry activities and to engage with global markets.
N4J will support the initiative through technical assistance and resources for community-based agriculture extension personnel to promote improved farmer income via crop diversification. In addition, N4J will implement a monitoring and evaluation system that will include reduced threats to protected areas and restoration of degraded forests.
With this program, N4J and Aliados are creating a sustainable management model for vulnerable cloud forest resources in a changing climate that will prioritize improved farmer well-being linked to wildlife conservation.
This initiative can be extended across the broader buffer region between the Coca-Cayambe, Antisana, and Sumaco-Napo-Galeras national parks, and other areas of Ecuador and South America.