Research in the Cloud Forest

Why Conduct Research at Los Cedros?

The Administration of the Los Cedros Biological Reserve welcomes researchers and conservationists to a virtually unexplored and uncatalogued area of the Neotropics.

Say goodbye to camping mats, tinned beans and bathing in cold rivers! The Los Cedros facilities include very good sleeping and work facilities, hot showers and three meals a day. We realize that the reserve is a remote location and will do our best to accommodate any reasonable concern. Special space is available for humidity sensitive equipment.

As well as management support, research teams can also expect to have the enthusiastic efforts of the volunteers to assist with their project work. In fact, assisting with scientific research is why many people apply to become volunteers at Los Cedros in the first place.

Los Cedros has a very open philosophy and will consider any reasonable research project proposal. If you have any questions, then simply contact the reserve.

The Importance of Research at Los Cedros

Located in North-Western Ecuador in the recently less than contiguous Southern Choco zone, this rapidly disappearing biosphere is considered by some to be a Pleistocene refuge area. From the Los Cedros facilities scientists have rapid access to several forest ecosystems both above and below premontane wet forest.

Unfortunately this area is highly endangered and little if any public outcry or professional conservationist effort has prevented the parcelling up of this rich biological resource for the benefit of agroindustrialized monoculture and lumber companies. These companies are supplying the Japanese chip board industry from one of the most diverse forest resources that has existed on the planet. A recent World Bank-financed thematic mapping program has slated the entire Cotacachi/Cayapas Ecological Reserve for future mining exploration.

Only a concerted effort to categorize and define this ecological treasure can call the attention of the Government to it’s true wealth and stop the tragedy of exploiting its resource base to pay back its ill-considered external debt.

The Los Cedros project is designated a Bosque Protector under Ecuadorian environmental legislation and is owned by an Ecuadorian foundation known as Centro de Investigaciones del los Bosques Tropicales, CIBT.

Since the foundation of the Los Cedros Reserve the principal objective of this project has been to stimulate research and community participation in the conservation of this area. It should be added that complete community supervision of the project is the eventual goal. In the interval it is considered a priority that research be conducted into the biological systems that comprise the local biosphere in order to catalogue possible resources in advance of any bioprospecting efforts. In this manner it is possible to register the future income generating potential of resources and to build a case for the conservation priority before increasing pressure from national and international mining, logging and agroindustrial interests.

Conditions for Research Projects

All scientific projects will be welcome when the following criteria have been met:

  1. The reserve, through the offices of the Centro de Investigaciones de los Bosques Tropicales, CIBT, will assist any project in obtaining the necessary permits from the respective authorities for the exportation of scientific samples for the purpose of taxonomic identification. This is a routine procedure and is the only control of biopiracy. The exportation of any substance of plant or animal origin for any other reason must be specifically authorized by the government of Ecuador.
  2. All researchers should be accompanied by Ecuadorian field assistants of university level and share the results of their endeavours with the respective scientific departments of institutions of higher education. The Los Cedros Reserve will provide food and lodging for any Ecuadorian participants in any field research at or below cost.

The Los Cedros Reserve will provide food and lodging for any Ecuadorian participants in any field research at or below cost.

Researchers are also welcomed to the Los Cedros facilities by special prices that include very good sleeping and work facilities, hot showers and three meals a day. For those projects that spend more than two weeks at Los Cedros no additional charge will be made for transportation. We realize that the reserve is a remote location and will do our best to accommodate any reasonable concern. Special space is available for humidity sensitive equipment.

Previous Research: PRIMENET

Los Cedros Biological Reserve’s most prominent recent research activity was the Darwin Initiative PRIMENET Project.

From the PRIMENET website:

“The aim of the Darwin Initiative PRIMENET project is to develop a comprehensive strategy for the critically endangered Brown-Headed Spider Monkey (Ateles fusciceps), vulnerable primates and habitats in NW Ecuador based on a programme of monitoring, education and sustainable livelihoods within local communities.

The project is funded by the UK government through the Darwin Initiative (DEFRA) and coordinated by the University of Sussex (UK) with core Ecuadorian partners ‘Ecuador Terra Incognita’,’Corporacion Botanica Ecuadendron’ and the ‘Los Cedros Biological Reserve’. The partners will develop the Darwin Initiative PRIMENET parabiologist training and research centre at the Los Cedros Biological Reserve with the ability to train indigenous and rural communities and conservation professionals in practical field skills for primate monitoring and habitat assessment.”

PRIMENET research continues at the reserve, from time to time.

Applying

If you are looking to conduct research in an environment like Los Cedros, then we want to hear about your plans! Please contact the reserve with some basic information about yourself and your project and we will get back to you soon, usually within a couple of days. Useful info for us is your name, university or institution, specialist subjects, potential research project details, when you would want to come and how long you would need to stay. A short email is usually sufficient in the first instance. We can also answer any additional questions you have about the area and our facilities.

Fees

Researchers and students working on pre-arranged projects: $35/night

Price is in US dollars. Fees include all accommodation, bedding and food. Vegetarian cooking is available. Food is plentiful and good.

Mule transport can be provided for bringing you and your gear up the mountain to the reserve.

Los Cedros is a non-profit reserve. All fees go to maintenance, staff wages, and the development of projects which are part of the reserve’s goals of conservation and education.