News From the Cloud Forest
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.