News From the Cloud Forest
Four community based ecotourism organizations have agreed to take on responsibilities for protecting Bosque Protector Los Cedros. Meetings held during the months of July and August with the Imbabura based Ministry of Environment. the President of the Junta Parroquial of Garcia Morneo and local organizations have let to an agreement to move forward with planning to include these new actors in the management of this reserve. Under a new law, planning and management of protected areas are to be co-administered by communities, local government at the parroquial or parish level and the ministry of environment will be brought together to protect declared areas for conservation. All of the organizations involved have received recognition from the government of Ecuador unlike the majority of communities represented in their memberships.
This scientific station still under management of the original team of founders will participate in a guidance role with the help of a specialist team of Ecuadorian professionals from community and scientific backgrounds.
Among the organizations participating at present are:
El Comite de Ecoturismo Comunitario Plurinacional de Manduriacos, long time associates of reserve management with membership from 5 communities including Chontal, Plan de Luisa, Magadalena Alto, Comunidad Mina y San Roque.
Flor de PambilCommunity based ecotourism organization based in Rio Verde and Cielo Verde. Women’s organization.
Hilos de Paraiso Paraiso is a community that borders the reserve where this women’s weaving and vegetable ivory handycrafts organization is branching out into tourism.
Grupo de Mujeres de Magdalena AltoThe only legally recognized community organization in the community of Magdalena Alto that is developing a new urban area for the community.
Planning is going ahead for a joint meeting of all these participants for the first Saturday in October.
During the month of July the Flor de Pambil organization participated in an inspection call for from the Ministry of Environment to remove squatters from the Manduriaco Grande sector of the reserve. It will be part of the responsibility of these organizations to protect the reserve and it is hoped that the management plan that will be developed together will include the building of some kind of structure to be used as a refuge for park guards and tourism in the Rio Verde and Manduriaco Alto sectors.
We also contemplated is the training of members of these organizations as Honorary Wildlife Inspectors and as Native Wilderness Guides supported by the Ministry of Environment.
Though I have been receiving notification for the past several years that people are asking me to join their facebook groups I still have yet to see a facebook page or personality on the screen. But I am reliably informed that old friend Rene Rosler with two dots over his o has created such a beast and other people are jumping on it. I do hope that this is not some elaborate hoax but here is the address if you are interested in finding out the unvarnished truth about volunteering or visiting here.
I will try to get my own page open soon so that I can see what this is all about.
Things around the reserve have been quiet for some time now as some of the pressures from land speculators appear to have lessened reciently. One efective measure taken by the community of Paraiso a few months ago was to grab one of the main people involved in the fraudlent sale of land here in the reserve and make him to agree to a public meeting on the subject. Of course he never came to the meeting and I have not heard a thing about his activities since.
The new watefall trail is now open and we have plenty of openings for volunteers. The new road to Brilla Sol passes only 1 hour’s hike from the reserve so getting here has never been easier. The new highway to Otavalo is also open with busses twice a day to Chontal one leaving Otavalo at 8 am and arriving in Chontal around 1 pm. with return to Otavalo leaving Chontal around 1:30pm.
So lets see if we get a response to this post and I will be back soon.
17 de Enero 2010
Seems as though the new bus schedule from Otavalo on Trans Otavalo to Chontal is a reality. The early morning bus leave around 8:00am and gets to Chontal around 1 pm which is early enough to get to Los Cedros. This same bus returns to Otavalo at 2:00pm from Chontal finally giving the option of not returning to Quito.
There is also the new road to Magdalena Alto from Chontal where for anywhere from 6$(see Ramiro Ona at the big food shop) to 10$(all others) you can save half the mule ride or hike to this reserve.
The busses from Quito still are leaving from the La Ofelia terminal in the far north of Quito for Chontal 5 times a day. 6, 10 and 12:30 am and 3 and 5 in the afternoon.
New Bus Station
No Road From Otavalo to Chontal
Orchid Project Returns in Janurary
Price Increases for 2009
There is a new bus station for all transport to NW Pichincha that is located in the Ofelia area in the far north of Quito. There are no longer busses from downtown. The departue time is also changing in some cases but there is still a 6:00am bus which will get you to Chontal in time to get to Los Cedros in one day. 10:00am 12:30pm and 3.00pm are good but there is a new bus to Cielo Verde that passes through Chontal that leaves around 5:00pm. Telefone for Trans Minas 08-594-5827 to check this out.
There has been a nice new edition of some of the guide books which claim that the road from Otavalo to Chontal is open with bus service. This entry is two years ahead of reality and I do not expect this road or probable bus service to be useful until 2010. It does not exsist today so you have to return to Quito to get here.
We need some volunteers as for some reason people who have reciently been in contact sort have been dropping off our comunications system and disappearing for some reason. Well despite the great references to our program in the new guides few people are actually arriving all the way here. This is a remote station with plenty for people interested in nature and hiking so keep on writing. We have had a bad telephone conection which has interfeared with our comunications for the last month or so but things are definatly better and it seems that the regurlar phone is now working so try our 286-5176 number sometimes.
The orchid polinator fungus investigation continues this coming Janurary for a month and more so pótential volunteers should get in contact.
With the aproach of the new road to Magdalena Alto there has been a resurgence of interest from an unwanted sector know as land trafficers. Anyone interested in the hard edge of conservation would be welcome to come help us out at present as the next couple of months will be interesting. The authorities are going to be visiting the local communites to remind people that invasions of state protected areas are being discouraged by police interventions. We expect no danger but we may lose a few trees.
The worldwide increase in basic food and grain prices has affected Ecuador creating 10% inflacion for this year so far and the government has decreed a 10% increase in government salarys to match.
Los Cedros has been working at a loss for most of this year so in order to keep up the fine dining standards here and raise wages again the rates will be raised for 2009.
Volunteers 450$us a month for room and board.
Scientists and Students 30$us per day all inclusive for prearranged projects
Tourists and General Nature Visitors 50$us a day for > 3 nights.
For all projects and students we will listen to any reasonable proposal
In the first days of January a group of 5 botanists from Canada, US, Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador will be collecting data about the relationship between Dracula genus orchids, thier polinators and fungus here at the Bosque Protector Los Cedros
Research is expected to continue untill the middle of Feburary financed by the National Geographic Society. There are still a few volunteer positions available here at the reserve to help in this study.
Also Ms. Sable Rose Regalia is returning to the reserve this Janurary bringing her very personal style of conservation back fill to a timless void left through her absence.
Looks like New Years will also be lively.
During the past week there have been important developments in the ongoing efforts to prevent a massive invasion of National Protected Forest in Northwest Ecuador.
During the last week of September an inspection was organized by Fundacion Los Cedros personel and the Ministry of Environment acompanied by police from the Garcia Moreno station of the invasion by topographers and land speculators in the Manduriaco Alto sector of Bosque Protector Los Cedros.
While logistical problems delayed the inspection untill the group had actually left the reserve area, tecnical personel from the Ibarra office of the Environment Minstry we able to find suficente evidence to qualify the intrusion.
More importantly all along the route the inspection team, some 10 people all together, was met by local residents who manifested thier support for the protected area and oppostion to the land speculators.
A suprising coalition of land owners, people who support the presence of mining companies and ordinary small holders were coming together to defend the reserve from any type of take over of what people described as their reserve.
By the time the inspection team returned to the town of Chontal after three days in the bush we were met in the evening by a group representing a broad range of local interest including comunity development organizations and workers for mining companies. They were returning from a Paroquial Govermnment meeting where they had set the date and called for a general community meeting on protecting the reserve called for by the president of the parroquial council.
On Friday 5 of October the meeting was set for the community of Magdalena Bajo as several local community members involved with the invasion plans were residing there.
10 police officers of the Judicial Police, including chief of the JP Major Baez, investigative branch of the police, were present in representation of the Governers office in Ibarra and the Ministry of Government from Quito.
The president and 4 council members from Garcia Moreno attended along with the presidents of 8 communites and over 60 interested citizens.
Presentations were made by Fundación Los Cedros personel and Ministry of Environment staff about the history and legal status of Bosque Protector Los Cedros after which the meeting opened for all to voice their opinions.
Resolutions taken by this community forum included total rejection of plans to colonize Los Cedros, demands for an investigation of the national land grant agency and police action to prevent any further incursions into the reserve. If these mesures proved to be inefective then the communites themselves left no doubt that they were comited to intervene on a defensive level and engage in direct action.
Major Baez asked for some time to organize regular patroling of the area around Bosque Protector Los Cedros and some time to infiltrate the organizaion behind the invasion plans so as direct action could be taken against the leaders. But from now on the invaders were to be notified that they were no longer welcome in this area and police would be present when ever they held meetings they would be disbursed in order to make clear they were involved in illegal activity that would send them to jail if they continued.
If it proved that this was insuficent to discourage the invasion plans, direct action against the invaders on a community level would be supported by the Judical Police.
The level of cooperation being given by the Goveners office of Imbabura Province in Ibarra has to be aknowledged a the key factor in providing a law enforcement presence at this critical time for the conservation of Los Cedros. While some logistical support will be necessary to provide for patroling in the reserve area by no means is this support to excede basic food and ocasional lodging for patrols called to discourage invader activity.
But many thanks also have to be given to the organizations and people of the communities surrounding the reserve for coming together when the reserve is under extreme pressure.
Also it must be said after years of division planted for the benfit of extractive industries in the Parroquia of Garcia Moreno the communites from both sides of an artificial divide have come together over a more important issue.