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Chocó Forest, Ecuador

The Chocó is rapidly approaching an extinction cliff. At current deforestation rates, this is just a few years away. Help protect dozens of threatened species, including the Endangered Brown-headed Spider Monkey.


Total Amount requested

$175,200 US

Votes so far


About the threat


If not protected, the land would be quickly deforested and many species would become extinct. Deforestation in western Ecuador has been so intense that today only 2% of forests remain in the region. Twenty years ago, scientific models predicted that the region would face an extinction cliff with many of the unique (endemic) species becoming extinct — we have almost reached this cliff now.

The official annual deforestation rate is 2.5%. In our region, the deforestation rate has accelerated since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The drivers of deforestation are industrial and unplanned logging to convert forests into palm oil and timber plantations. Very little, if any, forests remain south, west and north of the project area; moreover, those that remain are fragmented and devoid of many of the threatened species.

About this land

Why Vote for This Habitat

This is the last large tract of Chocó lowland forest in Ecuador, which is home to dozens of threatened species. The Endangered Brown-headed Spider Monkey (Ateles fusciceps), for example, is one of the 25 most threatened primates worldwide and its only large population is found in the project area.

The Chocó holds more species of plants than any other region in the Americas. Eight Critically Endangered plant species occur in our reserve, such as Magnolia dixonii and M. canandeana, and at least 27 species have not yet been found outside of our reserve.

The reserve is home to 29 globally threatened amphibian and reptile species, such as Gasthrotecca hornuta and Pristimantis ornatissimus, as well as Ecuador’s largest population of Critically Endangered Great Green Macaws (Ara ambiguus) and 13 other globally threatened bird species.

Purchasing this land would also protect the only viable populations of Jaguars (Panthera onca)Vulnerable White-lipped Peccaries (Tayassu pecari) and Harpy Eagles (Harpia harpyja) in western Ecuador.

Finally, this land purchase would allow us to connect four protected areas with a total size of more than 3,000 km² along an altitudinal gradient from sea level to 4,900 m. This is the only region in the Western Tropical Andes where the entire range of ecosystems can be protected. This project would build connectivity and allow us to achieve climate resilience, because species will be able to shift their distributional ranges uphill with increasing temperatures.

Backed by: Scientific Advisory Committee

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Cost of Land Purchase

Total Amount requested

$175,200 US

Minimum purchase

$30,000 US

Size of suggested purchased land of this application

300 ha

Minimum size that can be purchased

50 ha

Land purchase (300 ha @ $500/ha)


Legal fees (300 ha @ $20/ha)


Salaries for park guards (2 people @ $7,200 each)




Car maintenance/travel ($250/month)






Local Partner NGO

Status of registration of the group at the national level

Nonprofit foundation in Ecuador

Governance and management structure of the group

Fundación Jocotoco was founded in 1998 to protect the most threatened ecosystems and species in Ecuador. Jocotoco is governed by an independent, international board of 15 people from 6 nationalities. The board — of which 40% are Ecuadorian — includes scientists, people with business or tourism backgrounds, as well as career diplomats. The board generally meets twice a year. Each year, PwC audits Fundación Jocotoco on a pro bono basis.

Fundación Jocotoco owns two subsidiary companies, Jocotours and Jocoambiente, whose profits are used to achieve the mission of Fundación Jocotoco. Jocotours runs five lodges and one café at reserves owned by the foundation. Approximately 6,000 people visit our reserves each year.

Map: Green areas are protected. The areas owned by Fundación Jocotoco are green, those owned by the Ecuadorian government (national park and ecological reserve shown in light green). Orange properties are those targeted for acquisition. The owners have agreed to sell. Yellow areas are those of conservation-minded allies.

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Conservation Plans

The purchased land will be actively protected, held in a perpetual trust and managed by Fundación Jocotoco, which has over two decades of experience conserving habitat.

Jocotoco has developed four revenue streams to support the management of the Canandé Reserve in the long term: 1) our Chocó Lodge is the only continuously operating tourism facility in the region; 2) we are building a research station to house a large group of researchers; 3) we are studying the feasibility of issuing carbon credits; 4) we are developing sustainable land uses in the buffer zone around the reserve to improve local livelihoods while reducing the environmental impact. Taken together, these activities will ensure the long-term sustainability of protecting the land.