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.

Jose on Logs

New Community based management plan in the works

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.

Los Cedros’s New Facebook Page

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.


New Bus Service from and to Otavalo

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.


Logistics Updates

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