Volunteers sought to help save Ecuadorian biological reserve

Image: reservaloscedros.org

Mr John Seed, from the Narara Ecovillage , is calling on Central Coast residents to join a campaign to save the Los Cedros Biological Reserve in Ecuador from mining.

“In 1988, with the help of a grant from the Australian Government’s development assistance bureau, we established the Los Cedros Biological Reserve in Ecuador,” Mr Seed said. “We have continued to support reserve director, Mr Jose Decoux, throughout the intervening 30 years,” he said. “As a result, Los Cedros is, according to the Professor of Ecology at Oregon State University, the best-forested watershed in Western Ecuador.

“The Ecuadorean Government has secretly and corruptly signed a mining agreement covering Los Cedros and other protected areas, with mining companies from Canada, China and beyond (including even our own BHP). “Many of the international scientists who have worked at Los Cedros have signed a letter attesting to the irreplaceable scientific value of Los Cedros. “A few weeks ago, we hired a couple of researchers to find the extent of this handing over of Ecuador’s protected forests to mining interests. “To our shock and dismay, we’ve learned that currently in Ecuador, at least 39 legally declared protected forest areas (bosques protectores) with a total area of approximately 3.7 million hectares have been concessioned illegally for mining. “These areas are within the Tropical Andes, which ranks fi rst among the global biodiversity hotspots, especially for vascular plants, birds, amphibians, and terrestrial invertebrates.

“These bosques protectores are home to literally dozens of vulnerable and endangered species and new species are being discovered by scientists each year. “This year alone, two new species of orchids were discovered at the Cerro Golondrinas reserve (13,550 hectares); the Guayllabamba and Maquipucuna reserves (15,000 hectares) provide key habitat at the heart of the Andean Spectacled Bear Corridor declared by the Municipality of Quito in 2013; the Cordillera Kutuku y Shaimi (342,000 hectares), Cuenca Alta del Rio Nanagariza (77,330 hectares), and Cordillera del Cóndor (17,600 hectares) are in ancestral territory inhabited by thousands of Shuar indigenous families. “This region is considered to have the highest fl oristic endemism in the neotropics.

“The Cuenca del Río Paute (48,183 hectares) is home to newly discovered amphibian species, is the water source for Cuenca (Ecuador’s third largest city) and the Paute Hydroelectric Dam, the largest producer of electricity in the country. “The protection of the mega-biodiversity and critical ecosystem services these areas provide are the reasons they were designated as protected areas. “Stripping them of this status to allow mega-mining is the worst sort of betrayal. “This campaign keeps growing and I could use some help. “It’s been an intense month, and when we release this story worldwide, my workload will double. “The Rainforest Information Centre (Nimbin, NSW) has always consisted entirely of volunteers, and when I was based in Lismore, we often had a whole bunch of people working together on issues like this.

“Maybe this crisis could be an opportunity for something similar to happen on the Central Coast? “Of course people with environmental campaigning experience are sorely needed, but we also need help with constructing a new WordPress website, getting the word out on social media and plain old administration.” Mr Seed said he would be facilitating an experiential deep ecology weekend on October 6-8, at Rumbalara Retreat, Mt Elliot, near Holgate. All proceeds will benefit the Los Cedros campaign. “This workshop transforms environmental despair into empowerment,” he said. For more information see rainforestinfo.org.au or contact Mr Seed at johnseed1@ozemail.com.au

Source: Email, Sep 18 John Seed, Rainforest Information Centre

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