Ecuadorian Rainforest Among the Richest in Biodiversity Globally

Jordy Muus

May 7, 2020

Even though Ecuador is a small country, it is considered one of the most crucial countries in the world in terms of biodiversity. Yet the majority of its biodiversity remains underexplored.

Ecuador is considered one of the most biodiverse countries globally due to the high diversity of its natural species. The country has around 23.056 taxonomic species of animals and plants reported, constituting 6,1% of all species reported worldwide. Of the 23.056 species, there are over 1500 birds, 450 of which can be found on the Save the Native Forest Foundation ground alone.

Even though its incredible biodiversity, only a tiny percentage of the region has been scientifically researched, meaning most biodiversity and the implications the biodiversity can have remains unknown. Therefore STNF and its partner CNBN are looking to explore the unexplored by studying the region's biodiversity and discovering new species.

An example of a unique species in the Ecuadorian Amazon is the sweetwater dolphin or Orinocodolphin. The Orinocodolphin is an important species for indigenous communities and is present in many folklore. Indigenous communities used to live peacefully alongside these gentle river giants. Still, sadly this species is highly threatened by increasing oil pollution, and sightings have become much rarer in recent decades.

The biodiversity richness in Ecuador is determined by its geographical, atmospheric, and climatic location and conditions. Yet it is also these same conditions that make it greatly exploitable for destructive industries. Oil mining, poaching, illegal logging, and agriculture greatly accelerate the rate of deforestation and threaten the incredible biodiversity the country hosts.

According to satellite data, this has led to tropical forests being destroyed at a rate of about 8 million hectares (31,000 square miles) a year — an area equivalent in size to the state of South Carolina or the Czech Republic.

It is essential to move away from destructive exploitation techniques. Instead, the world has to move to more innovative and less invasive approaches. Luckily technological innovation is accelerating exponentially. The only problem is prioritization; countries rich in biodiversity are often impoverished and remote with a lack of technical infrastructure and knowledge. This lack of infrastructure has led the region to remain overlooked for innovative solutions, even though they need it the most.

Here at STNF, we aim to help educate those at the forefront of environmental destruction; small-scale local farmers. We teach them how to farm more with less land so that the remainder of the land can be given back to nature and former agricultural land can either be reused or restored to become rainforest again. We combine this approach with purchasing highly biodiverse plots of forest to ensure it stays out of hands from those who try to exploit and eventually destroy it.