By: Justin Lee
It feels great to be back in Ecuador!
We (my field assistant Mariela Palacios and I) have had a successful week laying the groundwork for our project…getting to know the many people working to conserve a critical ecological corridor of tropical dry forest in the Chongon-Colonche mountains northwest of Guayaquil. I am amazed at the extensive analyses that have been done by the Provincial Government of Guayas and the non-profits Pro Bosque and The Nature Conservancy to identify endangered ecosystems in urgent need of protection like the Chongon-Colonche corridor.
Some of their recent documents can be found here: http://www.guayas.gob.ec/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=8….
The goal of my CCC Fellowship project is to work with these stakeholders and with landowners within the ecological corridor to identify incentives that will encourage landowners to conserve remnants of tropical dry forest on their property. Tomorrow we will begin surveying landowners to better understand their views of conservation and what types of technical assistance, tax breaks, development swaps, etc. will result in the ‘win-win’ scenario that allows these farmers, their land, and the endangered dry forest ecosystem to flourish.
No records or lists of landowners exist within any levels of the government and thus we will be driving and walking throughout the region to make contact with people. The network of small, mostly dirt roads that connects people here can become impassible during heavy rains. However, thanks to our friends at Fundacion Jambeli (another Ecuador Based conservation NGO fundacionjambeli.org), we’ll be navigating through the campo in the mighty UniMog…photos to come soon:)
This certainly is quite different from my normal approach to conservation which involves lab work and veterinary medicine!!!