News From the Cloud Forest

Pressures Mount on Los Cedros from Squatter Invasions

During the last few years this reserve has been the target of organized groups that have the objecive of securing new land for the purpose of exploiting the lumber and developing farms. This activity in a declared protected area such as Los Cedros is totally illegal. The situation is compounded by the inability of the Ministry of Environment to conduct rapid interventions to contol the invasions by squatters. At this moment there is a group of around 30 police and goverment authorites in the Manduraco Grande area of the reserve atempting to evict a squatter family that has now been living in the reserve for more than a year. The complaint that I filed 16 months ago about this situation took untill today to actually get the eviction in this stage of actual execution.

To take this long to actually do something about a clear violation of the protected status of this reserve has encouraged other squatters in the last months to take their own land that will have to be subject to other long processes in order to arrive at evicion orders.

This project will need the financial help of outside organizations to effect the needed rounds of the government agencies that will lead to the eviction of theses new ofenders. I would like to make a call as well to interested people to volunteer as administrative assistants here at the reserve on short or long term comitments. For this process we will consider reduction of the cost of room and board in order to facilite those comitments. The future of this protected area is threatened by the present situation and our comitment to provide a buffer area for the Cotacachi/Cayapas Ecological Reserve as well.

The long term answer to the problems that face the protected areas of Ecuador is the formation of a trained corps of physically able rangers by the Ministry of Environment or local governments. This reserve administration has proposed the creation of park rangers that are licenced by the Ministry. When a formal proposal that included this strategy was presented to the Ministry of Patrimony it was received enthusiasticly and subsequencially presented to the central planning comitte SENPLADES of the Ecuadorian government by Patrimony where it was rejected without explination. We will continue with this effort to provide long term protection if conservation is to have a future here.