News From the Cloud Forest

Reserve Battles Greedy Land Speculators in Ecuador

This is just a little update on what has been happening at Los Cedros and to start out here is the run down on the constant legal battles that are being waged against the greedy and corrupt.

The Los Cedros reserve has been challenged from it’s inception by some members of a group of land speculators known as Association La Florida or Madrigal and known among the farmers and villagers as Los Calleros, surname of one of their first unpopular agents who worked in the communities.

The core group seems to be related to the Ecuadorian Chancelery or Ministery of Foreign Relations and in 1994 they received a land grant that superimposed itself on 400 hectares of the Los Cedros Reserve.

Since 1996 we have been aware of this problem and have made many petitions to the land grant agency for the rectification of this error on the agency’s part.

We have received no answer to any of the complaints we filed over the years but instead received notification after two years of administrative silence from the land grant agency that our entire land title was being challenged by some members of this same group of land speculators.

Today after changing the name of the organization and reason for incorporation they have newly emerged as the Corporacion Rio Manduraco, environmental organization dedicated to conservation and construction of the Choco/Manabi ecological corridor.

This new image is hard to reconcile with their efforts to destroy the Los Cedros Reserve unseals the objective is to increase the land under their control. Supposedly 3 members of Corp Rio Mandu need the 400 hectares of the Reserve to include it in the conservation strategy of the Corp. This is patently a land grab not conservation. To accomplish their aims they have gone to the extent of nullifying the entire reserve title.

So friends and neighbors we will be calling on you to help with your e-mails and pressure on the politicians of your country to support the Reserve before this travesty. Please get in contact with me here at the reserve if you have any ideas about how we could raise some funds to stop this or apply political pressure.

We have assembled a legal team that will go into action if the first notification of title annulment is ratified and executed. Then we will need your help and the help of your contacts to pressure the often mercuric government ministries.

On the bright side the community tourism program is growing with each passing year and we are training the first group of local mountain guides with the help of the master of community tourism, Sir Randolph Smith,KBS,. The first two 3 day workshops have been held in Los Cedros and Chontal. The Alberge Neotropical, a community based hostal and tourism office is under construction in Chontal and will soon be the information and coordination center for visitors to Los Cedros.

The community health center is now open with the attention 20 days a month by a licensed nurse. The community radio program is about to be implemented and this will provide radio communications between the municipality, hospital, police, Los Cedros and the distant communities surrounding the reserve. We do need some help with the funding for this program and owe 1.500$ as part of the contribution of Los Cedros.

The new bridge crossing the Guayabamba river at Chontal has now had all of it’s cement laid by a huge 400 person work day and will soon provide direct access to town from Quito.

The volunteer program could use some stimulation if any one has any good ideas. We had to raise our prices because of the inflation since dolarization and there are fewer people traveling here for the bargain travel Ecuador once was. Schools or programs out there looking for where to go?

See you around

jose