On November 12th, the Puyango Municipal Conservation Area in Loja, Ecuador was expanded by 60,599 acres with AAF support. The reserve now protects 71,622 acres of precious humid forest as well as rare tropical dry forest. Puyango is one of the first reserves created in Ecuador dedicated to the protection of native stingless bees, hard-working pollinators whose presence is vital to nutritious food production. Given the dwindling population of bees worldwide due to loss of habitat, pesticides and climate change, this particular conservation effort is exemplary of how even our smallest insects play a tremendous role in the function and health of our overall ecosystems and economies.
Through the collaboration of AAF grantee Nature and Culture International, the local communities were trained in reforestation, beekeeping, and honey harvesting techniques so that honey production can increase as these pollinators are protected. According to Milton Guaicha from Meliponas “Thanks to the bees, people are becoming aware that they should no longer deforest.” The community now has 4,600 domesticated beehives, benefitting approximately 160 families.
In addition to bees, Puyango’s expanded reserve includes vital habitat for one of Southern Ecuador’s last populations of mantled howler monkey. Other significant species that find their home in the area include the endangered grey-cheeked parakeet (Brotogeris pyrrhoptera) and the vulnerable American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus). Additionally, the reserve’s forests safeguard critical water sources for the communities that live nearby.
This expansion of the Puyango Municipal Conservation Area was a result of collaboration between Nature and Culture International, the Municipality of Puyango, FORAGUA, and communities from the Mancomunidad of Meliponas. Support was provided by the Andes Amazon Fund as well as Belgium Cooperation and BOS+.