Colonso Forest Protected Area
The Colonso Protected Area makes up 10,000 hectares (22,000 acres) of natural forest just west of our main office in Archidona. The land is owned and managed by Ecuador's Ministry of the Environment. In 2007, the Ministry signed an agreement with Fundación Bosques para la Conservación to establish the conservation area.
The forest is part of the Tena watershed, the main source of drinking water for the city of Tena. It also feeds the Colonso, Shitie, and Inchillaqui rivers that flow into the Napo River. By protecting this forest, we work to protect the drinking water for the city of Tena and other communities downstream.
According to studies performed by Fundación Bosques para la Conservacion, the forest stores an average of 642 tons of carbon/hectare. That totals approximately 6.4 million tons of carbon in the protected area.
Conservation International identifies the tropical Andes as a the richest and most biologically diverse region on Earth, containing 1/6th of all plant life while only covering less than 1% of Earth's land area. The Colonso forest is on the eastern edge of this extremely valuable ecosystem.
We work with the communities of Alto Tena, Santa Rita, and La Libertad that surround the Colonso Forest Protected Area to map out areas of conservation and production, create strategic buffer zones of reforestation, and design participatory research plots.
We work with indigenous communities to demarcate territorial land to establish zones of production and conservation. We use GIS (Geographic Information Systems) to establish base lines of current extractive processes in order to monitor future trends in deforestation, resource extraction, and agricultural production. See maps below.
By creating zones of agroforesty production around conservation areas, local people can rely on the income generated in these zones instead of extracting resources from protected areas. We work with farmers to establish buffer zones of guayusa production.
We implement participatory research methods to monitor the impact of our work and to constantly search for better methods of achieving high quality guayusa production and increased forest conservation.
As part of our mapping project, we worked with community Santa Rita to produce the maps featured below. Check out our video on the right to hear Welcome Dundas (Fundación Runa Volunteer) and Eliot Logan-Hines (Executive Director) tell us more about the project.