Ecuador Placeholder

Ecosystem restoration with key ecological and cultural species

About the Implementing organization

Name: Comuna Ancestral Las Tunas

Country: Ecuador

Year of establishment: 1998

Type of organization: Community-based association or organization


We are distinguished from all other reforestation initiatives by emphasising the crucial link between cultural values and the protection of globally threatened species. We forged the link between culture and nature by reforesting native trees which simultaneously provide ingredients for the traditional cuisine and for handcrafts and the preferred nectar resources for an endangered hummingbird during a critical period, the breeding season. Community members rediscover and promote the cultural and economic values of native plants during environmental festivals. Workshops teach about the basic ecology of threatened species and how to identify and protect them.

Nature Element

Forests / Wildlife

Type of Action

Protection / Restoration / Access and benefit sharing / Awareness and education

Sustainable Development Element

Jobs and livelihoods / Food security

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s)


Environmental Impacts

More than 15,000 native trees planted in an area where less than 4% of forest cover remains. Several thousand native pechiche trees have been reforested to provide critical flower resources for the endangered Esmeraldas Woodstar. The first breeding sites of the endangered Esmeraldas Woodstar are found and now protected. Ten endangered Great Green Macaws long extinct in the region will be reintroduced in the Ayampe communal area in 2017. Tree species which provide fruit and seed sources for the macaws have been planted. Endangered species such as Gray-backed Hawk and Blackish-headed Spinetails are monitored. A local bird club has been established to increase environmental knowledge.

Sustainable Development Impacts

Reforestation is an important tool to mitigate climate change which leads to warmer temperature at constant precipitation at the Ecuadorian coast. Thus, water resources are becoming scarcer and the Río Ayampe dried up for the first time in 2015. Reforestation protects water resources, strongly reduces erosion, and improves the micro-climate. Reforestation further provides future timber resources for the community.
The protection and increased forest cover enlarged the habitat for many of the rarest birds and mammals in Western Ecuador. Thus, our initiative avoids extinction and provides connectivity in the Ayampe watershed to Machalilla National Park.


Given the strong deforestation in Western Ecuador, our initiative could easily be enlarged. Effectively, Fundación Jocotoco has reforested >1 million native trees throughout Ecuador. Other reforestation activities could be enhanced by our approach of identifying the cultural link to native tree species on one hand and their ecological value for those species most in need of direct conservation actions. Trees have worldwide a very high cultural value . Our initiative is thus a blueprint to better target reforestation efforts so that they garner local support but improve the status of globally threatened species.


Reforestation is an activity that is inherently appealing to the public. It is thus one of the activities for which it is relatively easy to secure political support and local, voluntary help. Reforestation is further an ideal tool to become aware of the inherent link between forests, water, and the supply of ecological resources for future generations. Because the growth of trees is directly visible, reforestation is furthermore a wonderful tool to teach about the importance of long-term sustainability. Owing to the inherent appeal of reforestation, our initiative can be replicated across different cultural contexts.

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