News From the Cloud Forest

Cautious Young Website Released Into the Wild

After many years of service the old Los Cedros website has been retired, and replaced by the splendor you see before you now. The original website was hacked together up at the reserve using a creaky laptop and an early digital camera. The new site is dynamically driven by open-source software and should allow easier creation and maintenance of content. Non-techies will hopefully find it relatively easy to write content directly into the site. Easier than before, anyway. Los Cedros is a dynamic reserve and it needs a website that can keep up.

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Back in 2001, reserve inhabitants Sabel Rose Regalia, Gretchen Ferrell, and Michel Trommelen all helped write the first website, along with Jose and myself. Thanks again for doing that guys. Big chunks of the new site are in fact copied over from the old, so your work lives on. Also thanks to Edmundo Gooden, many of whose photos have also transcended the molting of the old site’s skin.

Many of photos featured on the new site come from Jonathan Spangler, who visited the Reserve in 2004 and has left a photographic legacy. Thanks Jonathan.

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If you haven’t visited the photo gallery yet, I recommend it. In addition to Jonathan’s work there are lots of other great pictures from one of the most photogenic places on the planet. And if you have any photos from the reserve you would like to see added, the new system allows direct uploading. Just email me for an account and have at ‘er.

One of the cooler (and buggier) new features is support for multiple translations. See up there at the top, where there is a list of languages? Clicking on one of them should regenerate the site showing those pages that have content in your language of choice. Unfortunately we don’t have much content in languages other than english, yet. We need volunteer translators! Los Cedros is a truly multicultural, multilingual place. It needs a multilingual website.

There remains a lot of wrinkles to be ironed out, and a lot of fresh content to be created and translated, but the new website is born and released from the nest and crawling towards the light. Flourish young website! Welcome to the wild.

Land Speculation Threatens Reserve

Fraudsters and Land Speculators convince many to Invade Reserve to cash in on unheard of offers from new mining company.

I could start this new tale by stating that being a buffer area to national protected areas is becoming a tough job. There are so many factors involved that I hope to get them all in one short article.

In general the presence of international mining interests in Ecuador has been a disaster for the areas that interest these rapacious companies. With the new mining law that the World Bank imposed on Ecuador, that eliminated any percentage of product for the benefit of this country, that money has been employed to manipulate and divide the communities affected. Where elected governments have been opposed to this extractive industry, Mining companies have openly supported opposition parties during political campaigns. Where environmentalists have opposed mining projects they have been targeted for police harassment and intimidation. In all phases of project development money that should be paid to governments for mining privileges and obligations, these “investments” instead has been used undermine the local political process. In the case of Cotacachi, which has always been one of the poorest jurisdictions coupled with a recognized progressive participatory political process, this is an unjust situation. It is traditional in Ecuador’s politics that politicians receive payment from extractive industry and since this does not happen in this municipality these funds are employed to finance the opposition. Didn’t the World Bank have a campaign against corruption? Someone must have wolfed their witz.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fundacíon Los Cedros Recognized by Ministry

First of all let me apologize for the delay in getting any new information published on this site. There have been some unfortunate delays in getting access to the account with my usual lackadaisical approach to public access.

Having said that there has been a lot to keep people informed about. To start the new foundation has been recognized by the ministry of environment, which means we have legal status for managing the reserve. This also means we have to arrange for some office space to have an address that will allow us to get a tax registry number and then open a bank account. This process is under way with discussions taking place on the new address.

The new board of the reserve is comprised of some new community reps along side some people from CIBT. Here is a brief summary of this group.

Fabian Hernandez- Founder of the community eco tourism project Comite de Ecoturismo de Manduracos.

Jose Cueva- Commercial organic vegetable producer who also works in certification of organic produce. Jose also is an organizer of community participation in protected areas with the El Chontal protected forest and the Cambugan project.

Ximena Mina- Member of the ecotourism project and elected member of the Paroquial council here in our area.

Maritza Cifuentes- Secretarial/Administrative manager of CIBT who continues with this new organization in an administrative role well learned from Marta Mondragon.

Timoteo Metz- Founder of Restoration Forestry and member of directory of Ancient Forests International.

Jose DeCoux- Los Cedros organizer and resident.

We need some suggestions on where to look for support for this new organizational structure. The first task for the FLC will be to get the tax, bank affairs in order and the management plan updated and re-approved by the Ministry of Environment.

Cambios en Los Cedros

Hay noticias buenos y malos para comenzar este nuevo año.

Ha sido necesario subir los precios que pagan los estudiantes y turistas por la inflacíon en los costos de la vida y la necesidad de aumentar los sueldos que parcialment estan ya incrementado.

La nueva fundacion encargado por el Ministerio de Ambiente al manejo de Bosque Protector Los Cedros ya ha sido aprobado despues de un processo de casi dos años. La flamante Fundacíon Los Cedros desde hoy comienza su tarea.

Este reconocimiento permitará nuevos gestiones para la protecíon de este area. Principal reto es la iresponsibilidad de la INDA que ha renovado la ajudicacíon de la cooperativo Nuevo Triumfo que perjudica al Bosque Protector Los Cedros pero en mayor grado a la Reserva Ecologica Cotacachi/Cayapas con titulos de propiedad a 130 personas. Evidentamente elementos corruptos han hecho lo suyo con bienes del estado y los perjudicados son los estafados tenedores de estos titulos falsos.

Espermos que algunas de las personas perjudicadas saldran frente para pedir justica y juntos podremos llevar los abusadores al legitimos recompensa de los estafados. Mientras tanto los perjudicados estan andando en el sector illusionados con terrenos ya declarados protegidos y que pertenece al estado.

Pero este has sido siempre el trabajo aqui. Somos zona de amortiguamiento de la RECC y continuaremos con el reto de proteger lo de todo los Ecuatorianos.

Josef DeCoux
Director Ejecutivo
Fundacíon Los Cedros

Changes @ Los Cedros

There is some good news and some bad so I guess we start with the bad.

It has become necessary to raise our prices in light of new organizational obligations and to compensate the staff for thier work. Since Ecuador renounced its own monitary system and adopted the dollar as its medium of exchange there has been a constant increase in the cost of living where it is considered that a basic income necessary to supply a family is well over 400$ a month. Currently the reserve has been paying between 6 and 7 dollars US a day in wages and considering we need to feed all the staff here an aditional 3 dollars a day for prep and food could be considered as part of this wage.

This wage is being raised progressivly in the case of kitchen staff but has been raised definativly for machete and transport based labour to 10$ p/d plus food.

I know it is not much. These new prices to cover this additional expence will take effect on the 1 of March 2007.

On the positive side we have received recognition from the Ministry of Environment for the new Fundacíon Los Cedros which is the legally recognized organization that is responsible for the protection of Bosque Protector Los Cedros.

This status will allow us to receive funding for project management and subsequently entail bookeeping expences. The new foundation has incorporated several new community members and some CIBT people as well.

Fabian Hernandez- Founder of the community eco tourism project Comite de Ecoturismo de Manduracos.

Jose Cueva- Comercial organic vegetable producer who also works in certification of organic produce. Jose also is an organizer of comunity participation in protected areas with the El Chontal protected forest and the Cambugan project.

Ximena Mina- Member of the ecotourism project and member of the Paroquial council here in our area.

Maritza Cifuentes- Secretarial/Administrative manager of CIBT who continues with this new organization.

Timoteo Metz- Founder of Restoration Forestry and member of directorat of Ancient Forests International.

Jose DeCoux- Long time Los Cedros organizer and resident.

We need some sugestions on where to look for support for this new orgainzational structure. The first task for the FLC will be to get the management plan updated and aproved by the Ministry of Environment.

Josef DeCoux
Executive Director
Fundacíon Los Cedros

Primenet Class of 2006

In September, the PRIMENET project ran a training workshop at Los Cedros for community-based parabiologists.

Sara Richard created a video of the training, a short version of which is below. Much more information is available at the PRIMENET website.